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University of California Berkeley 

Regional Oral History Office University of California 

The Bancroft Library Berkeley, California 

Katherine Field Caldwell 


With an Introduction by 
Mary -Ann Lutzker 

Interviews Conducted by 
Suzanne B. Riess 
in 1992 and 1993 

Copyright 1993 by The Regents of the University of California 

Since 1954 the Regional Oral History Office has been interviewing leading 
participants in or well -placed witnesses to major events in the development of 
Northern California, the Vest, and the Nation. Oral history is a modern research 
technique involving an interviewee and an informed interviewer in spontaneous 
conversation. The taped record is transcribed, lightly edited for continuity and 
clarity, and reviewed by the interviewee. The resulting manuscript is typed in 
final form, indexed, bound with photographs and illustrative materials, and 
placed in The Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, and 
other research collections for scholarly use. Because it is primary material, 
oral history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete 
narrative of events. It is a spoken account, offered by the interviewee in 
response to questioning, and as such it is reflective, partisan, deeply involved, 
and irreplaceable. 


All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement 
between The Regents of the University of California and Katherine 
Field Caldwell dated November 6, 1992. The manuscript is thereby 
made available for research purposes. All literary rights in the 
manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The 
Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley. No part 
of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written 
permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University 
of California, Berkeley. 

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be 
addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, 
University of California, Berkeley 94720, and should include 
identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated 
use of the passages, and identification of the user. The legal 
agreement with Katherine Caldwell requires that she be notified of 
the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond. 

It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows: 

Katherine Field Caldwell, "Family and 
Berkeley Memories, and the Study and 
Profession of Asian Art," an oral history 
conducted in 1992 and 1993 by Suzanne B. 
Riess, Regional Oral History Office, The 
Bancroft Library, University of 
California, Berkeley, 1993. 

Copy no. 

Katherine F. Caldwell, 1993 

Photograph by Suzanne B. Riess 

Cataloging information 

CALDWELL, Katherine Field (b. 1906) Professor of Asian Art 

Ff Hilly *nd Berkeley Memories, and the Study and Profession of Asian Art. 
1993, vii, 269 pp. 

Family history: Sara Bard Field, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, and father, 
Albert Ehrgott; memories of suffragists; poet and writer friends, artists, 
Beniamino Bufano, Ansel Adams, Genevieve Taggard, others; life in Los 
Gatos, and on Russian Hill, San Francisco; travel to Italy, 1924; college 
at Wisconsin, and Radcliffe; marriage to Professor James Caldwell, and 
observations of English department, UC Berkeley: Dylan Thomas, Josephine 
Miles, Benjamin Lehman, others; career in art history: Legion of Honor, 
Treasure Island Fair, San Francisco Museum of Art; graduate studies in 
Asian art, and faculty position, Mills College, 1951-1971; mentors Langdon 
Warner, Otto Maenchen; bringing the Brundage Collection to San Francisco, 
1958, the Society for Asian Art, and docent program. 

Introduction by Mary-Ann Lutzger, Ph.D. , Associate Professor, Mills 

Interviewed 1992-1993 by Suzanne B. Riess. The Regional Oral History 
Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley. 

TABLE OF CONTENTS --Ka the rine Caldwell 

INTRODUCTION- -by Mary-Ann Lutzker, Ph.D. 
INTERVIEW HISTORY- -by Suzanne Riess 




Kay's Parents Separate 1 

Earlier Memories of Absenses and Returns 3 

Brother Albert and Life in Portland 7 

The Charm and Intellect of Sara Bard Field 10 

Sara in Pasadena Sanitarium, 1913 12 

Goldfield: A Nevada Divorce, Malaria 15 

In San Francisco with Mary and Lemuel Parton, 1914 18 

Life with Father in Alameda, 1915 20 

The 1915 Fair, The Suffragists 22 

Berkeley in 1916: Houses, Playmates, Parks 23 

Albert's Experiments 25 

An Independent Child, Transportation 26 

Father and Daughter 28 

Social Isolation and Self-Consciousness 30 

Uniqueness of Being the Child of a Suffrage Leader 32 

Sara's First Address in San Francisco 33 


The Accident, 1918, and Aftermath 36 

Painful Memories, Visits 40 

Sara's Breakdown 45 

Presence and Influence of Charles Erskine Scott Wood 47 

Kay's Life on Hold 49 


Women's Party Meeting, Washington, 1921, via Chicago 51 

The Adult World, San Francisco 55 

Rebellion, Reconciliation, Berkeley 56 

Berkeley Fire, 1923 58 

College Thoughts 60 

People: Genevieve Taggard, Hedwiga Reicher, Ed Grabhorn 61 
People: Powys Brothers, Nellie and Maurice Brown, Lincoln 

Steffens 64 

Sexual Awareness 66 

People: Tony Luhan, Ansel Adams, Ralph Stackpole 68 
People: Helen and Ansley Salz, the Menuhins, and Others From 

the World of Music 70 

People : Beniamino Buf ano 74 

The Home on Russian Hill 75 

Los Gatos and the Marengos 77 

People: Noel Sullivan 78 

Poetry Talk 80 

Sara and Colonel Wood as a Couple 82 

Sara's Bout with Colitis, 1923 83 

To Italy, January 1924 85 

Languages 86 

Seeing Art, and Life, in Europe with Pops 87 

Paris: Frugality, Ezra Pound, Ulysses 89 

Discoveries in a Diary, 1923 92 


College Choice 96 

Wisconsin, and Alexander Meiklejohn 97 

Meeting Janes Caldwell; Friends at Wisconsin 98 

Jin, and Sara and Colonel Wood 102 

Radcliffe Studies, A.N. Whitehead, and Others 104 

Troubled Tutors 106 

Issues of Feninisn and Westernness 108 

Art History, Langdon Warner 110 

Marriage, and Travel Time 114 
Master's Degree: Paul Sachs, and Consequences for San Francisco 114 

Asian Art Studies 116 


A Job, a First Home, and a Visitor, Ella Young 118 
Benjamin Lehman, "Bull" Durham, and the Bronsons and the Clines 120 

The Walter Morris Harts, T.S. Eliot, and Social Mores 122 

The Denneses, and the Rosses 125 

Jim Caldwell 's Academic and ACLU Interests 127 

Friendship with Mr. Shiota 128 
Ben Lehman's Circle, and Wives Judith Anderson and Henrietta 

Durham 131 

A Story About Muriel Rukeyser 133 

Una and Robinson Jeffers, and a Letter, 1929 134 

An Evening with Dylan Thomas, 1949 137 

The Loyalty Oath 139 

A Woman's Place, Women Friends 141 

Josephine Miles 143 

Jim Caldwell 's Teaching, and His Personality 145 

Having Children 149 

A High Sierra Retreat, Woods Lake 152 

Dan and Sara Caldwell 155 

Sara Bard Field's Suicide Attempts 160 


The Legion of Honor Job; Directors 164 

Treasure Island Fair, Arts of the Pacific 165 
About Elizabeth Huff, Alfred Salmony, Albert Bender, and 

Mills College 169 

A Series of Job Opportunities 171 

Grace McCann Morley and the San Francisco Museum of Art 173 

Art History Graduate Studies, UC Berkeley, Faculty 177 

Otto Maenchen and Anna Maenchen 179 

More on Treasure Island, Arts of the Pacific 180 

Art on the Gayway 182 

Friends of Far Eastern Art, and Other Early Interest in 

Asian Art 183 

More on Graduate Studies 185 

Job at Mills College, 1951 190 

Lynn White's Presidency of Mills 191 

Course Work in Art History 193 

The Students 194 

Academic Life and Resources at Mills 196 

Gallery Exhibitions at Mills 198 

Professional Crisis, and Resolution 200 

Further Teaching Experiences 202 

Research in Japan on Nara Ehon 204 

Continuing Professional Relationships 207 


The Germ of the Idea, 1958 209 

A Lunch Meeting 210 

Selling the Bond Issue 211 

Dorothy and Morse Erskine 213 

The Purpose of the Society for Asian Art 214 

Rene-Yvon Lefebvre d'Argence 215 

The Docent Program 218 

Jan Fontein, and the Asian Art Museum Directorship 221 

Stories of Avery Brundage 222 

Activities of the Society for Asian Art 224 

Harry Packard 226 



A. "Remembering the 1923 Fire," from Hillside Neighborhood 

Newsletter. 1992. 242 

B. "An American Patron, Albert Bender of San Francisco," by 

Katherine Field Caldwell, American Federation of Arts Magazine 

of Art. August 1938. 243 

C. "Guidebook to Sexy Sculpturing," by Ralph Craib, San Francisco 

Chronicle. June 26, 1964. 249 

D. "From Winckelmann to Warburg, Art History at Mills," by Mary 

Manning Wale, Mills Magazine. May- June 1972. 250 

E. "Farewell to Katherine Caldwell," by Nancy Thompson Price, Mills 

Quarterly. May 1971. 255 

F. "Afterword" by Katherine Field Caldwell, Sara Bard Field. Poet and 

Suffragist. The Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, 
UC Berkeley, 1979. 256 

INDEX 266 

INTRODUCTION --by Mary-Ann Lutzker, Ph.D. 

Katherine Caldwell is one of the most dynamic women I have met. At 
the age of eighty-five she is still deeply involved in the world of Asian 
art, women's issues and contemporary political events. She is a woman 
with liberal leanings and strong convictions, who in the midst of many a 
discussion about racial inequities, the deficit, the U.S involvement in 
Vietnam, abortion, and gender issues, has firmly proclaimed that she is a 
card-carrying member of the ACLU, sending out clear signals that her 
views are a reflection of her strong will and character. 

It was during the Cambodian crisis and the turmoil of the Vietnam 
Var that I first met Katherine in a seminar on Borobudur at the 
University of California, Berkeley. At the time I was a graduate student 
from England feeling overwhelmed by the Berkeley scene and the political 
events that were unfolding in Asia, particularly as Southeast Asia was to 
be the focus of my research. Undaunted by world events, Katherine was 
planning to visit the ancient Buddhist and Hindu monuments of Indonesia, 
where the communist regime of President Sukarno had recently been 

Katherine 's participation in the seminar was instructive to all of 
us . She wanted to know everything about the Central Javanese monuments . 
Her questions were insightful and stimulating. She was determined to be 
an informed traveller. I found her approach inspiring, because knowing 
that she had recently retired from a long career teaching Asian art 
history, I was amazed that she would still want to pursue learning about 
art and culture with such intensity. 

I think it may have been at this point that I realized that 
Katherine 's inquiry into different areas of art was a lifelong passion, 
that learning for her would never stop, it was a way of life. 
Katherine 's world was now opening up. No longer restricted by the 
limitations of the semester system, and having to travel to Asia during 
the unbearable heat of the summer, she would now have the freedom to go 
when she wanted and to stay however long she wanted. 

It was during the coffee breaks that I learned that Katherine had 
taught Asian art history at Mills College. During our conversations she 
would tell us how impressed she was by the focus of the work we were 
doing as graduate students. However, I was far more in awe of what she 
had accomplished and what she was doing. We may have known a few 
esoteric details about some ancient South and Southeast Asian monuments. 
On the other hand, Katherine was knowledgeable about and had been 
teaching the art of China, Japan, and India. Furthermore, her area of 
research was Japanese art, and she was just embarking on an area of new 
research, the Edo period Nara-Ehon scroll paintings. Katherine was eager 
to explore new intellectual horizons. 


It was some ten years later in 1982 that my friendship with 
Katherine began to develop, as also did my feminist conscience. I was 
now teaching at Mills in the position that Katherine had held for twenty 
years. Katherine was concerned about the status of Asian studies at 
Mills, and 1 sensed that she was relieved that a woman was again teaching 
in her area. On my way home from work I would often, and still do, stop 
at her elegant home on Vine Lane. Over cups of tea and glasses of wine 
our conversations covered Katherine 's world. I learned about the 
problems she had teaching as a woman at a woman's college. She told me 
anecdotes about the attitude of the art department at Mills which was 
openly hostile towards art historians, and in particular female art 

1 learned from Katherine that Sara Bard Field, the noted feminist 
and writer, was her mother. This explained Katherine 's interest in the 
women's movement and her concern about the treatment of women faculty at 
Mills and Berkeley, and also the intensity of her questions to me about 
how I as a woman was managing to cope with the pressures of a 
professional life that demanded almost total dedication to teaching and 
research, and extended periods of travel abroad: how was I able to keep 
my family life together? Having experienced the tensions that a woman 
faces in trying to balance the responsibilities of being a wife, mother, 
and professional woman, Katherine is aware of the complexities that face 
women today, and I sense her concern about the seemingly unsolvable 
position that we find ourselves in. 

Katherine has lived her life surrounded by art and artists. Growing 
up in the San Francisco Bay area she was influenced by her step-father's 
interest in Chinese furniture and Chinese paintings. As a young girl she 
would visit Chinatown and Chinese shops where she found that she was 
fascinated by the oriental world. It was not until she went to study 
under Langdon Warner at Harvard, however, that her latent interests in 
Asian aesthetics and culture developed. Fueled with a passion for things 
Asian, and particularly for things Japanese, Katherine was dismayed to 
find so few works of art on the west coast of the United States, 
particularly as the largest concentration of Chinese and Japanese people 
outside of Asia lived here in the San Francisco area. 

With her strong desire to build awareness of Asian art in northern 
California, when she learned that Avery Brundage was contemplating 
finding a home for his extensive collection of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, 
and Southeast Asian art, Katherine conceived of the idea of forming a 
group of interested people who would negotiate with Avery Brundage in 
order to encourage him to give his collection to the people of San 
Francisco. It was from this small group that the Society for Asian Art 
developed. With Katherine as a constant source of support the Society 
successfully persuaded Avery Brundage to bring his collection to San 


Katharine soon realized that very few people knew anything about 
Asian Art in the San Francisco Bay area, so she conceived the idea that 
the Society could provide an educational source by training docents to 
tell the public about the works of art. The result was the docent 
program that was developed with Katharine's encouragement and which 
becane the prototype that has been emulated by museums and galleries 
throughout the world. Rather ine is still an active member of the Society 
for Asian Art, and is a source of lively discourse at advisory board 

The last few years have been an extraordinary test of Katherine's 
stamina. Beset by failing health, and often frustrated by her increasing 
physical limitations, she has exhibited an indomitable will to continue 
her work. Her interests are unflagging. Upon returning from the 
hospital recently she immediately went to the symphony, and then she 
visited the Asian Art Museum. An avid gardener all her life, she 
continues to delight in the passage of the seasons, so atuned to the 
subtle changes that are constantly occurring. She has a heightened 
awareness of nature and aesthetics that has grown from her love of 
J apane s e cul ture . 

Katherine Caldwell is a truly remarkable woman. Her mother's 
daughter, and a mother herself. A woman of strong convictions about the 
role and place of women in society today. A woman who has been 
determined to uphold the right of women to be independent. And a woman 
who has contributed immeasurably to the growth of Asian art in the Bay 
Area. Above all Katherine is her own person, a warm human being who has 
been an inspiration to me, and whose warm friendship I value and enjoy. 

Chrysanthemum dew- - 
Just put it in an ink-stone 
And it comes to life 

(Buson, 17 16- 1984 ) l 

Mary -Ann Lutzker, Ph.D. 

Associate Professor, Mills College 

August 1993 ' 

Oakland, California 

1 This haiku addresses friendship. Chrysanthemum Dew, a special wine, 
is served at the Chrysanthemum Festival which is held each year on the 
ninth day of the ninth month in Japan. It is a symbol of friendship- -both 
the ink-stone and the chrysanthemum are redolent with symbolism. 


INTERVIEW HISTORY- -Katherlne Field Caldwell 

In a university community as full of interesting people and goings- 
on as Berkeley, California is, Rather ine Field Caldwell is a particularly 
outstanding member. Wherever she night have been set down to live her 
full and vital life she would have been an active participant in a 
multiplicity of ways: scholar working in her chosen field of Asian art; 
wife and mother; faculty dinner-party hostess; wonderful friend and 
mentor; gadfly where the bite of social conscience was needed; informed 
art -lover and concert -goer. But by making her home in Berkeley in 19 30-- 
a return, because she had lived in Berkeley's complex community of town 
and gown in her teen-age years --Katherine Caldwell entered an arena truly 
worthy of her. 

The oral history memoir that follows is a chronicle of Katherine 
Caldwell 's early years, her psychological and social development and 
expanding cultural horizons; her marriage to James Caldwell, professor of 
English at the University of California; and her studies in Asian art, 
and career in that profession. The historian is offered a unique look in 
depth at a span of life that begins with participation in the suffrage 
movement- -Katherine is the daughter of suffragist Sara Bard Field [1882- 
1974] --and comes forward through the decades to merge with the feminist 
movement . 

The separation and 1913 divorce of Katherine Caldwell 's parents, 
Sara Bard Field and Albert Ehrgott when she was seven years old, the 
death by auto accident of her much -loved older brother Albert Field 
Ehrgott when she was twelve years old, catapulted her into adulthood in 
sudden and painful ways. But her bright intelligence gave her the 
resources and strength to fee an adult, albeit well before she would have 
chosen. As she said in her Afterword to the Regional Oral History 
Office's interview with her mother, "While it was difficult to grow up in 
an adult world where I was expected to be more or less 'on my own,' there 
were considerable rewards." 

It would be enough to provide the historian with that span of life 
referred to above, but in inviting Katherine Caldwell to be a memoirist 
for the Regional Oral History Office, we had in mind enriching the 
archive of Bay Area cultural history, and opening inquiry into the 
history of the Asian Art Museum, one of San Francisco's Fine Arts 
Museums, and into the teaching of Oriental art in the Bay Area. With her 
strong academic background- -Wisconsin, Radcliffe, and Berkeley- -tutelage 
from Langdon Warner, studies under Otto Maenchen, and priceless 
acquaintance through proximity with Oriental art, Katherine Caldwell had 
found her place by 1950 as an expert in Asian art. She was referred to 
in the 1971 Mills Quarterly as "the only contact with Asian culture for 
several generations of art majors." 

But beyond that role, she is one of the founders and a former 
director of the Society for Asian Art in San Francisco. It was through 
her contacts that the Avery Brundage collection of Asian art came to San 
Francisco --the Brundage Wing of the de Young Museum opened in 1966. That 
story is told in the oral history. And in her introduction to {Catherine 
Caldwell's oral history, Associate Professor Mary-Ann Lutzger, friend and 
fellow Mills art history faculty, succinctly describes just how important 
Katherine Caldwell- -Professor Caldwell--was to her and others as scholar 
and Mentor. 

The interviews with Katherine Caldwell took place in the Caldwell 
home in Berkeley, reached by one of the city's nearly-secret paths, Vine 
Lane. There she has privacy, trees, views, a garden deep below, and she 
lives amidst dark and beautiful carved Oriental furniture, great 
architectural vaulted spaces, and framed lovely opaque window light. 
Kay, as 1 called her, would always have prepared a good cup of coffee for 
me when I arrived for our morning interviews in Fall 1992. Sometimes she 
would join with a cup for herself, but as often not. She was suffering 
from poor health throughout the interviews --some days were good, some 
were very bad, and we had to cancel interviews occasionally. The pain 
was such that it distracted her, she felt, from offering further text on 
some points. At her best, that would never have happened, and she always 
wished, of course, to be at her best. 

However, when Kay knew that she was not doing what she wanted, not 
getting the story told, then she would request that we go back over some 
parts already told, of the early years, and flesh out, or retell, or fill 
in facts. It is for that reason that there is no tape guide to the 
interviews. Sessions were often edited into earlier sessions. When Kay 
received the final document for her editing, again she had been so ill as 
to require hospitalization, but she made a valiant effort to review the 
mass of transcript, and made accurate and important corrections. 

The illustrations for the oral history come from a quite remarkable 
store of photographs, taken by excellent Bay Area photographers. At the 
time of doing the oral history, Kay's reserves of strength were also 
being put to the task of assigning a future to her wonderful objects of 
art, many inherited from her mother and her stepfather, Charles Erskine 
Scott Wood, including furniture and rugs. She was also having made 
archivally-permanent a group of early Ansel Adams photographs, taken of 
her wedding to Jim Caldwell. One is among the photographic illustrations 

to the oral history. 


The appendices to the oral history include Afterword by Katherine 
Caldwell, written in 1979, a passionate statement of a woman's 
recollection of her relationship with her family, in particular her 
mother. The reader of the oral history will be aware of the presence, 
sometimes more, sometimes less, of Sara Bard Field throughout. The 


Regional Oral History Office's interview with Field, Poet and Suffragist. 
cane out in 1979, one of the Suffragists Oral History Project series. 
That interview, forty-six sessions recorded between 1959 and 1963, was 
one of earliest undertaken by the oral history office, and was a landaark 
compendium. Rather ine Caldwell's memoir, Family and Berkeley Memories, 
and the Study and Profession of Asian Art, stands quite on its own, a 
story of a new generation, a new time, but behind her looms a large 
figure, and the reader is referred to the Field text for more on the San 
Francisco of the 1920s. 

Readers are also referred to oral histories completed on University 
of California history, and on the arts and social history. In 
particular, see Benjamin Lehman, Josephine Miles and George Stewart, 
English department; art department, Stephen C. Pepper; philosophy, Will 
Dennes; Berkeley history, Ella Barrows Hagar, Bernice Hubbard May; the 
arts, Ansel Adams, Ruth Cravath, Dorothea Lange , Elsie Whitaker Martinez, 
Kathleen Norris, Grace McCann Morley, Rudolph Schaeffer, Helen Arnstein 

James R. K. Kantor, University Archivist Emeritus, recognizing the 
exceptional story Katherine Caldwell had to tell, the richness of the 
cultural life she had witnessed and to which she had so greatly 
contributed, spearheaded the project. The Regional Oral History Office 
thanks him, as it has so often in the past, for his support, and his as 
always excellent proofreading skills. My thanks to Kay for her hard 
workgoing back in time isn't easy- -and a friendship gained in the 
interviews. And the text is enriched by Mary- Ann Lutzger's introduction, 
turning back the pages of history and telling her story of Katherine 

The Regional Oral History Office is under the direction of Willa K. 
Baum, and is an administrative division of The Bancroft Library of the 
University of California, Berkeley. 

Suzanne B. Riess 

October 1, 1993 

The Regional Oral History office 

The Bancroft Library 

University of California, Berkeley 


Regional Oral History Office 
Room 486 The Bancroft Library 

University of California 
Berkeley, California 94720 

(Please write clearly. Use black ink.) 
Your full name %**> T u A < s=r \-Aj_T) i^fi. *- 

Date of birth V//// 01 

Birthplace -/tiKjt**t , 

Father's full name A Rif* r 


Mother's full name 
Occupation fr cf 

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Your spouse ( 



Your children 5A-ft% 

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where did you grow up? (L 
Present community OcjA&w 

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Areas of expertise 

Other interests or activities 

Organizations in which you are active 



Rav' * Parents Separate 

Caldwell: I think this oral history should begin with what was the most 
traumatic event of my life, and that was when my mother 
announced to me that she was going to leave my father. I was 
six years old and unsuspecting of any discord between them. So 
when she said, "Kay, I'm going to leave your father, do you want 
to stay with him or come with me?" I was absolutely stunned. I 
couldn't believe it. And of course, in those days 
people --nobody got a divorce, so to speak. It was unthinkable. 
I hadn't really known about husbands and wives separating. 

I loved both my mother and my father, but like most 
children I was closer to my mother, and so I opted to go with 
her. But the fact I had to make such a crucial decision has 
stayed with me all my life, and for that reason I feel that 
starting this oral history with that event is of importance. 

Also, having to make that decision I think has made it very 
hard for me to make decisions all the rest of my life. I can 
remember going into a library with my mother when I was very 
small and seeing all the books and almost crying with the 
thought that I would never be able to read all those books. How 
could I decide? And that is still with me, right to this 
moment . 

Riess: Do you think you believed that she would really go away? 

Caldwell: I knew she was going away. But she was away so much, you see, 
so going away-- [laughs] . And I hadn't thought of it until this 
moment, but that may have greatly influenced my decision to go 
with her. 

It was a very, very hard decision. And I liked things as 
they were. Most children do prefer what they're accustomed to. 
I thought a moment, and I said, "Oh, I'll go with you." And 
that was that. I don't remember any subsequent conversation 
about it. And I can't remember --maybe I was traumatized to such 
a point that I blot out the specific memories of immediately 
what happened afterwards. I have no memory whatsoever, except 
that event stands out in my mind, as a shattering decision. 

Riess: There was not a family council? 

Caldwell: No, no, not at all. 

Riess: Just between the two of you. 

Caldwell: Yes. 

My mother used to tell me later about how disapproving she 
was of my father's disciplining of my brother, and her 
remonstrance . For example , when my brother almost set the place 
on fire, my father 1 think put something hot on him. Not to 
burn him, but to give him an idea of how severe a situation it 
might produce. But I don't ever remember my mother and father 
quarreling. Now, this may just have been that they secluded 
themselves in another room when they had their differences, I 
don't know. I have no remembrance whatsoever. 

I also was very much impressed with my mother's absences. 
Riess: I wonder if you thought that after a while she'd come back. 

Caldwell: No. I knew it was final. I sensed it. This was the real, 

final parting. How I knew that, I don't know, but I did. I had 
no doubt. It was a frightful, frightful anguish, a very great 
anguish. I can feel to this day how I felt at that moment. I 
also knew I couldn't do anything about it, had to face up to it. 
I have lots of faults, but apparently my strength of character 
stood by me [laughs] --was developed at that point. 

Riess: You knew you couldn't do anything about your mother and father. 

Caldwell: No. I suppose most children realize that they can't really 
influence them in grave decisions. But I realized it was an 
irreversible situation; I sensed it was irreversible. No use to 
plead, "Oh, do stay home," or something like that. It never 
occurred to me to beg her to stay. 


Did you earlier? 

Caldwell: No, I only remember wishing she were there more. I don't 

remember thinking, "Isn't it awful that she's not," or "Why 
doesn't she?" I only remember having a great sense of emptiness 
and wishing, but never--! don't remember censoring her ever. 

My mother wrote a poem at some point- -it wasn't 
published- -that I came across. My daughter and I were looking 
at it the other day. It was called, "To A Sad Child." And it 
was about controlling my tears, holding them back, and that kind 
of thing. But I don't remember feeling sorry for myself at all. 
This was the way it was. 

Riess: Veil, these are strengths of character, aren't they? 

Caldwell: I never thought until this moment that it was a strength of 

character- -at the moment of decision, of going with her. But it 
was a very great wrench, because I was very fond of my father 
and brother, too. 

Riess: Now, this separation from your father, she had met the Colonel 
by then? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, but I didn't know anything about that, I hadn't the 
faintest idea. Well, I had met him once when I was a little 
girl, and he came to the house. I was four. I was out in the 
potato patch next to the house, and it was the first time I ever 
saw a car, a motor vehicle a private car. He was driven up. I 
had no idea who he was, that he had any relationship to my 
mother other than any other friend. I was completely ignorant 
of this. I hadn't the faintest idea why she was leaving my 

Earlier Memories of Absences and Returns 



When are some of your earlier memories? 
Cleveland in 1906. 

You were born in 

Oh, I have a few memories, but they're not of any importance. I 
remember that we lived in a house that had an old streetcar 
abandoned in the backyard we used to play in. And my brother 
Albert was a great tease , but he always had a kind of paternal 
attitude toward me, which was well -emphasized later on in life. 

I can remember his taking me out on a sled in the snow. 
And I can remember a dog that we had. And I can remember my 
sense of guilt, which is very strong to this day, always feeling 

I'm doing the wrong thing, or often, because of a little girl 
who was brought to visit who couldn't crawl up the stairs, and I 
didn't want her to play with my favorite toy, which I put out of 
her reach. I was very severely lectured to about my 
selfishness . 

Another early memory: I had adenoids, and because I snored 
I was disturbing the sleep of my family and put out in the hall 
to sleep. I have that sense of guilt for those two things which 
has never left me. I have never forgotten those. Those are my 
memories of Cleveland. And the snow, 1 do remember the snow. 

When my parents moved from Cleveland to Portland, Oregon, 
they must have been very anxious themselves. I wasn't yet 
four- -I had my fourth birthday in Portland- -and I ran around 
saying, "Have you got the tickets? Have you got the keys?" 
Well, now a child of three couldn't think this, it had to have 
been transferred, that anxiety. 

I have been an anxious person all of my life. I am not 
blaming anyone, heaven knows. This is the way it was. But I 
attribute my anxiety to this. I don't know. 

Riess: It was not a good move for your family? 

Caldwell: Well, any move for a small child is something that is stressful. 

Riess: But I mean, you were taking on their anxiety? 

Caldwell: I think so. This is just a guess, you know. After all, I was 
only three. 

I have no other memories of Cleveland except the fact that 
we had steep steps going up to the house, and as I mentioned, 
the abandoned streetcar, and that was a great plus for my 
brother, because his friends all loved to come and play there. 

Riess: Tell me about the memories of Portland. 

Caldwell: In Portland my father, as he always did, managed, for all of his 
small income, to find a very nice house. It was a large house, 
with four bedrooms, and it had a huge empty lot next to it that 
I don't think belonged to my father, but it had potatoes planted 
in it. 

I remember lots of playing with my brother, and my mother 
always leaving the house. I did have a sense of wishing to see 
her, and that she were home more. But I wasn't criticizing her 
for this. It just was a kind of longing. 

Caldwell: One early memory, from when I was four years old, was very 

influential on the rest of my life. [laughter] I mean, it was 
in a way another awful decision to have had to make. 

Christmas was approaching, and my father, a clergyman, 
said, "We must send a barrel of presents to the missionaries in 
Burma. They're very poor, and they have very little in their 
lives. Now Katherine, you go and get a toy." So I went and got 
a battered toy. 

My father said, "Oh, no. Not something like that. 
Something that you are fond of." Whereupon, tears streaming 
down my face, 1 got my favorite teddy bear, and gave it. It was 
a bear that was such a support in my life, psychologically, that 
it was a very, very great sacrifice for me to make. 

My children always were very impressed with this story, and 
it became sort of a custom to give Mother a teddy bear for a 
birthday, or for going off for a trip or something like that. 
And my son gave me a bear when he left for college, to hug. 

Riess: And when you were four, you think you were already needing a lot 
of support? 

Caldwell: I never sensed the tension between my mother and father, but my 
mother was home very little, and I think that may have been it. 
She was always leaving for her suffrage work. And of course, as 
I mentioned in the "Afterword" to my mother's oral history, 
being with her was such a shining experience. So her absence 
was a great contrast to the joy we had in her companionship. 

My brother and I- -there are such small, rather trivial 
memories then, you know. You see, it was not very long after 
this that my mother left my father. But one nice motherly thing 
I remember about my mother, on Sunday evenings she was home with 
ususually she did reserve Sunday night for us- -and we had 
Triscuits, which still exist in the stores to this day. I have 
them right in my kitchen right now. 

She would butter the Triscuits and toast them. We had 
those and hot chocolate Sunday evenings. That was time that she 
would be with us. Otherwise, she was always with other people. 
And once in a while she'd cook something. Not very often, but 
she would cook something. Maybe she'd cook more often than I 

Riess: Would she involve you with that? 

Caldwell: No, no, not at all. But she learned how to make an apple pie 
that was very good. My brother always looked forward to that. 
But those were events. I mean, usually you assume that your 
mother is going to be in the kitchen cooking, but for us it was 
kind of an event for her to be doing anything like that. 

Riess: Was your father sort of a darker personality than your mother? 

Caldwell: I was very fond of my father, he was very dear to both my 

brother and me, and loved us dearly. No, I didn't think that. 
The darker part of my father's nature came out after the 
divorce, and then we were living with him. And one of the hard 
things about living with him was not that he wasn't kind and 
good to us, but that he never could distance himself from the 
anguish he felt and the anger. 

He was angry for several reasons: first of all, his life 
was shattered by my mother's leaving him. He greatly admired 
her, as well as loved her. The other, and I think most galling 
experience for him, was the disgrace, you see, from his point of 
view, that she was suffering socially by the love affair with a 
married man. So there was both the anguish of losing her, and 
the jealousy- -that's another factor, of course and the sense 
that her reputation was being dragged in the dirt. 

All of these things added up to a fury within him that 
could never be eliminated. He was focused on this, and of 
course, we were reminders of the fact that his family was broken 
up. I don't mean for a moment that he wasn't a kind and loving 
father to us; he was. But he was obsessed with anger and 

Riess: You probably tried to make up in some way for your mother's 
absence , too . 

Caldwell: Yes. I remember the first time that I ever felt sorry for him, 
had that feeling. He used to sit at the piano sometimes in the 
evening playing hymns --in Berkeley that was, of course. There 
was one that the words are, "Earth hath no sorrow that Heaven 
cannot remove." And the tune to it was very melancholy. I 
remember once feeling his loneliness, for a poignant moment. 
But children--! was pretty young, and children don't really 
understand the anguish of adults. 

Riess: No, adults want to spare them that. 

Brother Albert and Life in Portland 

Riess: Let's step back a bit, and talk about your childhood memories, 
and your family life then. 

Caldwell: I remember in Portland I went to kindergarten alone on the 
streetcar. In those days, people didn't--. I don't know 
whether it was just my family or not, but they certainly didn't 
take children from place to place the way they do now. I was on 
my own. 

Riess: Your brother Albert preceded you. 

Caldwell: Yes, he was five years older, you see, so he was in school. 

Riess: In fact, he must have been very much the big brother. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, he was, very much so. Of course, much more so after my 
parents separated. 

I didn't know, of course, at the time, even in Portland, 
how different my life was from other children, who "came home to 
Mother" and had the family together, because of my mother's 
almost constant absence. But I think deep down inside I felt a 

I did start school there, and I remember I was very, very 
advanced in reading, and probably the slowest in arithmetic. I 
was conscious of that. And I remember once being admonished by 
the teacher for too much pride , as I mentioned the fact that 
Eugene Field, the poet, was a member of the Field family, my 
mother's family. 

Riess: When Sara was home, did she take an interest in your school 

Caldwell: No, I don't ever remember her having any interest in what we 
were doing in school. But she always played with us, and we 
just had the most glorious times, laughter and fun. And the 
Triscuits. We always looked forward to that. 

There was a friend of my father's, a religious man, he used 
to drop in unwanted, and we were so afraid that he would come 
and intrude on our Sunday night gatherings that we turned all 
the lights out and went to a room where he couldn't have seen 
that anyone was home. To be sure he --Mr. Banks, his name 
was- -didn't drop in and spoil our little private gathering. 

I don't ever remember wondering why my mother was away and 
other children's mothers were not. That didn't occur to me even 
to think about that. And I don't remember ever feeling any 
resentment whatsoever --this was just the way it was. 

I remember coming home from school and getting something to 
eat, some fruit or something. And I remember occasionally 
playing with my brother. He devised a kind of way of making 
cigarettes out of crumbling up leaves in the garden, and smoking 
them. Then he would get me to promise I would never tell. That 
he held over me for anything he didn't want known about himself, 
"Don't you tell about my cigarettes." Of course, it was not 
tobacco or anything at all injurious. 

Riess: Did you think he really had a strong rebellious streak? 

Caldwell: Oh, no, I just thought he was the most wonderful person, and 
that he was always someone I felt was very companionable, in 
spite of his endless teasing. 

Riess: He was more conscious, surely, of the atmosphere of the 
household, being nine years old. 

Caldwell: We never discussed it. We never talked about my mother and 

father. We always just talked about my mother and how wonderful 
it would be to see her. But we never talked about relationships 
between them at all. 

Riess: Did he have more of a life outside of the house? 
Caldwell: Oh, yes. I think he did. He was off with the boys. 
Riess: And was there a housekeeper in Portland? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, there always was--. Well, there was someone who came 
in and did the housework and cooking, yes. I remember that. I 
never felt very close to any of those people. I never felt they 
were mother figures or anything of that sort. 

Riess: Were they black? 

Caldwell: No, white. I don't ever remember--! think the first time I ever 
saw a black person was many years later in San Francisco. 1 was 
not even conscious of racial differences. 

Riess: Do you think they were chosen to be mother substitutes? 

Caldwell: Oh, not at all. They were probably IrishI'm Just guessing. 

No, they were just uneducated, highly uneducated. I sensed the 

social difference--! think children do sense those things- -not 
like their parents at all. 





You said you were reading early? 

I dearly loved reading. That was 
was most entertaining. 

the part of school I thought 

My brother used to--. Half the door of each classroom, the 
upper part, was in glass, so you could look in. And he'd come 
by and wave to me or signal to me, and then I'd make the excuse 
to go to the bathroom, and go out and see him for a moment or 
so . So we did have kind of a comradely rapport . And that is a 
vivid memory of that kind of bond. 

My father loved to celebrate occasions like birthdays and 
Christmas very much. That always was true. And later on, in 
Berkeley, 1 was much impressed with that, too. I don't mean to 
say that he wasn't the very kindest- -just frightfully wrapped up 
in his church work. And naturally you don't expect a father to 
be home in the daytime anyway, do you? 

You were living in a large house? 

Oh, yes, we had a large house, in I think a nice part of 
Portland. We always had a nice house. Somehow he managed that. 
But we lived very minimally. 

You went on to have a career surrounded by art and visual 
material. Do you remember beautiful things in your 

Caldwell: Nothing in Portland, no. Not in Berkeley either. 

The first time that I was aware was after my mother and 
Colonel Wood established the house in San Francisco, and it was 
full of art treasures. Before then I never thought about it. 
Art as such didn't exist for me. My father was very fond of 
nature, so the beauty of Yosemite or something like that 
impressed me. But then that was not unlike any child, going to 
a place of such magnificence. And that was later on, after I 
was living with my father after the divorce. 


The Charm and Intellect of Sara Bard Field 

Riess: When Sara left the house to go out in Portland, was there a 
glamorous air to her? 

Caldwell: Oh, 1 wouldn't have thought in those terms then. Later on, when 
I went with her to Washington when I was fourteen, to the 
Women's Party, I was very much aware of her glamour. But then 1 
didn't think of her in those terms. Later on I realized that 
she was probably more attractive to men than any woman I've ever 
known, and 1 still claim this. 

She had a charm and kind of appeal . Whoever it was , 
whether it was a clerk in a store --she really looked at people 
and really gave herself over completely to whomever she was 
with, and that makes people very happy, I think. "You're the 
only one," whether you're selling me gloves or whether you're 
the head of an organization or just a friend. Or a child. 

Riess: And it was genuine. 

Caldwell: Yes, it was genuine. My daughter feels that my mother 
had- -this, of course, was a more mature, much later 
evaluation- -that my mother had this great desire to be liked. 
My daughter puts it down to an intense egotism. But I don't see 
it quite so harshly. 

Riess: And was she very feminine? 

Caldwell: That impressed me when 1 was fourteen and went East with her to 
Washington, the fact that she was so intellectual, so 
articulate, and yet had such great feminine charm. When 1 was 
an adolescent, and thought in terms of male and female charms or 
lack thereof, that very much impressed me. 

And as I grew older 1 was fascinated by this because of her 
intellectuality- -she wasn't a woman who depended on makeup and 
clothes and hairdos. She always looked perfectly beautiful, but 
not in a fashionable way. I don't remember her even- -she'd love 
to have nice clothes, but it wasn't an obsession with her. 

She never suppressed her intellectual powers in order to 
make a man feel superior. 1 was very much aware at a certain 
time in my life that women were supposed- -shouldn' t win a tennis 
game even though they could, or speak up in class, to be more 
bright than a boy. So that's the reason I noticed this. 


She also was able to express her own views very clearly. 
I'll never forget, once in Chicago I went to a luncheon where 
Clarence Darrow, the famous lawyer, was speaking. I never could 
understand his attitude towards women, because he was attracted 
to intellectual women, though his own wife was not. He talked 
about, "Why should a man be required to stay with a woman after 
he's impregnated her with a child? Animals don't do that." And 
my mother was furious. 

At the question period in this enormous lunch at this 
enormous hotel she just took him on- -I can remember it 
now- -fiercely. Flaming cheeks, you know. I was always 
impressed with her utter fearlessness to stand by what she 
believed in public. I think maybe it's rather surprising that I 
ever was able to get up and lecture to large groups of people, 
but I could do that on my own subject. I could never have taken 
on, in an adversarial kind of way, other people. Aggressively, 
I mean. 

Riess: And was she ever reduced to tears of frustration in a situation 
like that? 

Caldwell: I don't remember that. She would be very angry, but no, I don't 
think I remember her weeping. 

Another time when she was very upset was when the Women's 
Party was formed, and she didn't feel they were taking a liberal 
stance. It became the League of Women Voters, I think. No, 
that wasn't it. But anyway, the successor to the Women's Party 
she felt was too conservative. And I remember how upset she was 
about that. 

Riess: And did you find yourself being a listener for her? 

Caldwell: I don't remember. She treated me as an adult, from adolescence 
on. She made me feel very, very much that she cared about my 
opinion about her poetry, and she dedicated her first book, you 
know, "To Albert, who is not here to read", and "To Kay, who has 
read and understood." And even when I was in college she would 
send me her poems for my opinion. So I felt very, very much 
that she cared about my opinion about her work. In this sense, 
we had a very good interchange. I didn't feel she was 
condescending ever on this, ever. 


Sara In Pasadena Sanitarium. 1913 





Caldwell : 

What year did you leave Portland? 

Well, that would then be 1 guess 1913. Meanwhile 1 stayed on 
with my father, and it was then that 1 went down to stay with my 
Aunt Mary in Los Angeles. She took me to visit my mother in the 

You came with her when she went to the hospital to see whether 
she had tuberculosis? 

I have no memory of that whatsoever, not any. 
have happened, as far as 1 remember. 

It might never 

I only rememberand that's why I thought, and mistakenly, 
I'd gone directly from Portland to Goldfield after she told me 
she was leaving my father- -the only memory I have, my contact 
with her after she then left, was that I went down to visit my 
Aunt Mary in Los Angeles, and I stayed with my aunt. 

My aunt was in love with Clarence Darrow, and he came to 
dinner. I had to sleep on the floor in the kitchen while they 
were eating. I always apparently had trouble sleeping, because 
I kept being wakened by Clarence Darrow' s guffaws, violent 
shaking laughter. I just hated the man, because he kept me 
awake. [laughter] (I told this story to a man who was writing 
a book on Darrow , by the way , and on my aunt . ) 

I also remember being interrogated by a truant officer: 
"Why was I not in school?" And feeling quite nervous about 
this. Then I remember going to see my mother in the sanitarium, 
and she has quite a lot to say in her diary about her life then. 

Had you known your Aunt Mary well? 

Yes, I had a good rapport with her then, not later on. 

My Aunt Mary was a brilliant woman. She never realized her 
talents by writing a book, but she wrote the most extraordinary 
letters and was a brilliant journalist. She and my mother 
always had a kind of --well, my Aunt Mary was rather jealous of 
her sister, because her sister somehow made her mark on the 
world in a way Mary did not. But they were close, and as time 
went on my aunt was very possessive of my mother. This created 
a little difficulty. 


In this diary my mother wrote when she was in the 
sanitarium she Just makes a passing- -very few references to me 
or my brother. 

Riess: This is the diary that you've just recently found? 

Caldwell: Yes. This is in 1913. Las Encinas is the name of this hospital 
in Pasadena. She says --it's a little hard to read, it's sort of 
bleached out green ink- -"The child" --meaning me- -"is a marvel of 
tender sympathy and passionate affection. Poor little soul! 
The world holds much suffering for her." 

"And then we joined Thelma for lunch," she goes right on, 
you see. [laughter] That fascinated me. 

And then here's, "Kay overheard Mary"- -that's her sister 
Mary- -"speaking about Mr. Somebody -or -other going to prison. 
She asked the cause, and Mary told her it was because Mr. T. had 
cared for the poor people. 'Well, I'd better look out,' said 
Kay, 'I gave a doll to a poor child last Christmas.'" 

I went through her diary to see her references to my 
brother and me. They were very few. 

Riess: How long were you visiting down there? 

Caldwell: This I can't figure out. I had thought it was just an 

occasional weekend, but Mother says in her oral history that I 
went down to stay with my aunt. I can't think that my father 
would have allowed me to stay down there very long. 

Riess: Because he would have disapproved? 

Caldwell: Yes, and also my schooling. 

Riess: And you didn't enter school down there? 

Caldwell: No. I think my mother exaggerates the number of times I saw her 
there. To tell you the truth, I only remember going to see her 
once, but apparently I'm wrong about that. 

Riess: We know from the oral history, from your mother herself, that 

this was not a tuberculosis sanitarium; it was a sanitarium for 
people recovering from "nervous exhaustion." Do you remember 
anything of the actual place? 

Caldwell: I only remember- -a frightful memory- -that one of the hospital 
workmen, thinking he was going to entertain this child, said, 


"Come on, I'll show you something interesting," and he took me 
down to look out a window where a chicken had just had its head 
cut off, and it was running around headless. It shocked me 
deeply. I've never gotten over that, really. That's the only 
memory I have. That, and Darrow keeping me awake at night, and 
the truant officer. 

Riess: Was your mother always a diarist? 

Caldwell: No. She says here in the beginning of this one something about 
it being unlike her to keep a diary. And I was interested in 
that. [reading] "It is years since I've kept a diary. This, I 
feel, will be merely 'kept' and rust out rather than wear out." 
That's the way she starts this out. That's the first of 
January, 1913. 

It's a very interesting book, though, because although she 
is ill she makes many, many references to literature and what 
she's reading. I was interested in it because my brother and I 
seemed such incidental episodes to her life at that time. 

Riess: Was your brother also visiting periodically? 

Caldwell: I don't remember, and I don't ever remember going with him. I 
don't remember seeing him there at all; I may have and have 
forgotten about that. 

Riess: Does she make any references that clarify what kind of treatment 
she was getting? 

Caldwell: I haven't made note of these, so I couldn't say. I haven't made 
note of anything in this particular diary except references to 
myself and my brother. 

[reading] Oh, yes, apropos of leaving, on the 21st of May 
she says, "Left this morning for Goldfield. . . I wrote Albert on 
the train telling him the purpose of my changed situationpoor 
Albert." That is, however, my father, not my brother. But 
there is a reference to my brother and how manly he is , and how 
well he understood the situation, unlike his sister who didn't. 
"Little Kay is, of course, too small to understand." 

Riess: Are there references to doctors or treatment or getting well? 

Caldwell: Yes, there are references there where she wonders whether she 
has tuberculosis or not, and there is a reference, in fact, 
similar to what you read in the oral history, to the strain. 
Something seemed to be on her mind. 




I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to read this through 
again, I was just thinking in terms of my relationship to her. 
But I think she's probably recounted that pretty accurately. 
The excuse I always heard, and this I heard when I was quite 
young, was that maybe the possibility of tuberculosis was just 
an excuse for getting her out of Portland. In those days, 
people didn't talk about nervous breakdowns, you know. Those 
were hush-hush. Even later on, when she did have one, years 

So it might have been arranged by Pops [Charles Erskine Scott 
Wood] . 

Yes, he financed it, you see. My father certainly couldn't 
afford to do that. 

Riess: And Darrow's part? Since it was on Darrow's recommendation that 
she go to Goldfield rather than Reno, according to Sara's oral 
history, are there any references to conversations about that? 

Caldwell: I'll have to go through it more carefully. I haven't read it 
with that care. 

Goldfield: A Nevada Divorce. Malaria 

Riess: When she headed to Goldfield, you had packed all of your 

belongings? Did you come then down on the train by yourself? 

Caldwell: No, no. I never traveled alone at that time. I traveled on a 

train by myself when I was four up to Seattle to visit my Aunt 

Marion, but after that, I didn't travel alone from one city to 

Riess: Do you remember getting yourself organized to leave Portland? 

Caldwell: No, not at all. Nothing. I don't remember it at all. I 

remember the arrival in Goldfield, and the house we had, but I 
don't remember any of the travel arrangements. 

Mother rented a house in Goldfield. 

Riess: Tell about Goldfield. 

Caldwell: I didn't like it. It was very dry and forbidding--! wouldn't 
have been able to use the word forbidding at that time. We 
lived right across the street from the only bit of greenery, 


green grass, in Goldfield. The house there was owned by the 
owner of the gold mine. But we had a dreary little house. 

Riess: Vas the dreariness of it compensated for by the fact that you 
were at last with this mother you missed so much? 

Caldwell: No. I don't think so. 1 think the fact that she was still 
occupied with other concerns repeated the pattern. 1 hadn't 
thought of that until now, but I think it repeated the pattern 
of her not being there, although she did a great deal of writing 
at her typewriter at home. 

1 know the school seemed to me very difficult to have to 
adjust to. Looking back on it, it seemed to me a dreadful 
school. It was right opposite the courthouse. The teacher's 
method of disciplining the bad children was to say, "Well, I'll 
take you across to the police if you don't--" She didn't say 
that to me. I was all too good a child, you know. [laughs] 

I remember one child who wanted to go to the bathroom, and 
she didn't let him go, and he urinated in front of the class. 
He couldn't help it. And I remember how embarrassed we all 
were, and how distressed the teacher was. But anyway, these are 
minor things. 

Riess: So your days were mostly taken up with school. 

Caldwell: Yes, pretty much so. I had one friend who I realized in later 
life was a daughter of a prostitute. She used to do all kinds 
of dances, shouting, "Red light, red light!" I had no idea the 
significance of the dances or what she was saying. And I 
remember calling on a child with my mother who was so poor that 
they had a dirt floor, and our taking food to them there. These 
are fragmentary memories. I remember gypsies coming through the 

But mostly, as far as my relation to my mother is 
concerned, I remember this terrible anxiety I had. She would 
leave in the evening and not tell me. She didn't think that I 
had any- -she wouldn't have said "any business to know," but that 
was really the idea, her life was as she was to live it. So I 
would listen to her typewriter to hear whether it was being used 
or not. 

And then I also described in the oral history "Afterword" 
one time I couldn't stand it any longer, being alone. I got up 
and went to a neighbor's house in the middle of the night. She 
came home, of course, and I was gone. And she was very, very 
severe about scolding me about having done this. I don't blame 


her for that, but still, I was really finding it very difficult 
to be alone in the wee hours of the morning. 

Riess. Do you think people in Goldfield understood what a single woman 
and her daughter were doing there? 

Caldwell: 1 don't know. 1 have a feeling that they were nice to me, but 1 
don't remember who they were, what they looked like. Just that 
I needed refuge, with people. 

My mother always took me to the hotel for lunch on Sundays , 
and when we were together she was playful and acted warmly. She 
would buy me grape Juice when she had a glass of wine. She'd 
make me feel grown up. 

And my Aunt Mary came to visit us while she was there. 
That was when I grew to hostility toward my Aunt Mary, though. 
She was a very difficult woman. We all found her very 
difficult. As I grew older I realized that this was something 
shared by a great many people . But at the same time , she was 
brilliant, and 1 just loved her husband. 1 thought he was one 
of the- -I still think he was one of the nicest men I ever knew 
in my whole life, Lemuel Parton. He was a newspaperman. 

Riess: Did Colonel Wood visit you in Goldfield? 

Caldwell: Oh, no, he never came there. There was this extraordinary 
mysterious communication, a code they devised for telegrams. 

I forgot to say in the "Afterword" that when I was in 
Goldfield I came down with malarial fever. My mother had to 
take me down on the railroad train to Oakland. They had to wire 
ahead when I was on the train for ice , because of course there 
was no electrical refrigeration. My father, my own father, met 
us with an ambulance, and I was taken to the hospital, where 
Kaiser Hospital is now. 

That 1 should perhaps record, because again it's my 
abandonment by my mama-- [laughs] . I lay in that hospital bed. 
In those days, of course, there was no radio, and you had to be 
in the dark, so there was no looking at books or reading or 
anything. I Just lay there, hour in and hour out, by myself. 

Riess: How long were you in the hospital? 

Caldwell: Well, I think 1 couldn't be accurate about that, but I would say 
a week to ten days, maybe two weeks--! really don't know. 

Riess: And your mother had to go back to Goldfield? 


Caldwell: I don't know where she stayed then, whether she stayed with my 
aunt in San Francisco or what she did. I don't know. She came 
to see me for short times . 

Funny, I don't remember my father coming to see me, but he 
must have done. I remember his meeting us at the pier, and I 
can remember feeling some apprehension about the fact that he 
and my mother were going to meet again, because by this time I 
realized of course that they were not friends any more. 

Riess: Vere you an unusually small child? 

Caldwell: Veil, I only weighed something like four pounds when I was born. 
My mother was told not to eat much so that the birth would be 
easier. That's what she told me, anyway. No, I don't think--! 
don't remember. I am so short, but I was taller than my 
grandmother, her mother. And I never even to this day, when 
people mention, particularly men, how short I am, I don't think 
that I'm short at all. I'm just me. [laughs] 

Riess: Your mother refers to "Little Kay" all the time. 

Caldwell: No, no, that's age. Little Kay, as against Big Brother. No, 
the Little Kay had nothing to do with height. "Dear Little 
Kay," "Poor Little Darling," you know. If I had been six feet, 
I would have been Little Kay at that time. 

Riess: [laughs] I see. 

When you were out of the hospital you were returned to 

Caldwell: Yes. I'm surprised that my father didn't intervene about that, 
but he didn't. I think he was so sure he would win the divorce 

Riess: And that he would win custody? 

Caldwell: Yes. You see, the only way my mother was able to get her 

divorce without further contest on my father's part was to give 
up my brother and me to my father's custodianship. That was the 
"deal," so to speak. 

In San Francisco with Mary and Lemuel Parton. 1914 


Then you returned to San Francisco. 


Caldwell: Yes, that's right. And I lived at 1623 Lake Street in San 

Francisco with my Aunt Mary and her husband, in a little place 
my aunt called The Flower Pot, that's still there. A little 
tiny house with a big garden in front. 

My uncle, my aunt's husband, was doing newspaper work for 
the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition, on the marina. 
They built on some filled land for that, and the Palace of Fine 
Arts still stands. I remember PPIE--I wondered why they spelled 
pipe the wrong way. 

Riess: Is that why they were up in San Francisco, because of his work? 
Caldwell: Lem Parton was on the staff of the San Francisco Bulletin. 
Riess: What are your recollections of the Fair? 

Caldwell: I remember being taken to the art museum and saying that when I 
grew up I was never going to a museum. A joke, because my 
degree at Harvard was in museum work. There I just remember 
being very tired of being dragged around. 

Since the court awarded custodianship of my brother and me 
to my father I was obliged to go to my father's house in Alameda 
where we lived for one year before my father got the house here 
in Berkeley. I remember being taken the night that the lights 
on the Tower of Jewels, which was a famous landmark for the 
Fair, were turned out forever. My father let me stay up, and I 
was with my own father then. 

Riess: When you were with your Aunt Mary, was your mother also there? 
Caldwell: No, she was off doing suffrage work. She wasn't there at all. 

Riess: She recovered from this nervous breakdown, tuberculosis, divorce 
thing, she just snapped back? 

Caldwell: That's right. She was right back. She was doing suffrage work. 
Riess: Did she explain to you the meaning of her suffrage work? 

Caldwell: No, it wasn't until I went East with her when I was fourteen 

that I knew what it was all about. That's another whole story 
in itself. 

But I did want to say that when I was in San Francisco, 
staying with my aunt and uncle, I went to a public school mostly 
patronized by children from an orphanage. My Aunt Mary was 
never home. It seemed to be my fate as a child never to have 


anybody home when I came home from school. She would leave me 
little notes and little candies and so on, and funny little 
verses . But mostly 1 was on the street playing with the 
children after school. That was, of course, a help. 

Life with Father in Alameda. 1915 

Caldwell: Then my father insisted that the court order be fulfilled, and 
we moved over to Alameda where he had gotten a house. He had 
the most marvelous housekeeper. She was a retired schoolteacher 
from Honolulu, and her name was Percy Dillon. I loved her 
dearly. She was the first person who was there all the time, 
who was a mother figure. I never thought of her as a substitute 
for my mother for one minute; I always was lamenting my mother's 
absence . 

My mother would sometimes be detained in Washington at 
Christmas, and it was particularly upsetting to me, and I 
remember my brother was so marvelous about that. There are 
letters that my mother kept that he wrote to her, to reassure 
her, "I will break the news to dear little Kay." [laughs] 
Always, "Poor, dear little Kay." 

Anyway, Miss Dillon wrote a letter to my mother, which she 
kept, about what charming, delightful, intelligent children we 
were. And we just adored that woman. 

Another story- -while I was in Alameda my father wanted me 
baptized, and in the Baptist Church, you know, you are totally 
immersed. I had on the most white beautiful clothes, 
embroidered little slip, embroidered dress, white stockings. I 
remember I was examined, so to speak, about what 1 knew about 
Christianity, but I just repeated the things I was supposed to 

My brother, who was a terrible trickster, knew I didn't 
know anything about swimming, and he said, "Now, when you're 
under the water, take a deep breath." And here I was in these 
beautiful clothes coming up coughing, and unable to do anything 
but be humiliated by this! 1 remember the baptism very, very 
well, and the clergyman saying, "Do you, Katherine, take the 
Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior?" And it meant 
nothing to me in terms of any feeling. 

I never had any religious feelings about Christianity 
whatsoever, until later years when music meant so much to me. 






Caldwell : 

But I wanted to have the grape Juice at Communion. I thought it 
was simply wonderful to have the grape juice, and that was 
really the reason why I went through all of this. 

Your father didn't prepare you for this religious moment? 

Well, I always deadpanned with my father. I didn't know that 
term, that I was taking an attitude of that sort, but I remember 
later on I just couldn't bear to hurt his feelings. 

Many years later, when I was about sixteen, we were camping 
in the Big Sur down south of Carmel . Ve had gone in with horses 
with our supplies, and my precious dog, and we were left there 
with the idea that we'd be called for later with the horses 
coming back. (We ran out of food and had to walk back.) 

But I remember on that trip , under the skies , stars , my 
father said, "I hope that you'll never fail to think of our Lord 
Jesus Christ as your personal savior." And 1 remember hating to 
tell a lie, and just saying, "Mm," or something. Not committing 
myself, but feeling, "I cannot hurt his feelings. This is his 
life, it would break his heart." But I also hated to tell a 
lie, so 1 just deadpanned it. 

I was enchanted to read in the 
you slept outside. 

"Afterword" that during summers 

Oh, yes, we slept on a porch. My own father was a great health 
enthusiast, and he believed it was a good idea to sleep 
outdoors. So when we were over in Alameda--we lived in Alameda 
for one year before my father exchanged his Portland house for 
the Berkeley one- -there was a porch there, and our beds were out 
there. And we always played games, word games, before we went to 
sleep. He [Albert] was a great trickster and very humorous. I 
was sort of solemn, but he always jollied me up. 

Why did you leave Alameda? 

My father wanted very much to have us grow up in a special 
environment, so he found a house in one of the nicest parts of 

What did he mean by special? 

Educationally, and socially. He wanted us to live in a 
cultivated, educational environment. And he thought Berkeley 
was just the idea. How he ever managed to exchange that house 
in Portland for one of the nicest parts of Berkeley has always 
astonished me. He always, for all his very, very limited 


resources, managed to provide a very nice house, in a "good" 

The 1915 Fair. The Suffragists 




Caldwell ; 


Caldwell : 

At the Fair your mother was manning a booth for the 
Congressional Union? 

Yes. And it was from there that she went in '16, you see, 
across the country on that famous tour where she accumulated an 
enormous number of signatures in favor of the suffrage 
amendment . 

Chita Fry sums up the period from 1910 to 1920 of your mother's 
life as occupied with suffrage. Do you have stories of these 
individuals, Alice Paul, Emma Wold, Anne Martin, Mabel Vernon? 

Anne Martin I knew somewhat. Those women were just very dear 
friends of my mother's, and important people in the political 
world, but I didn't know them very well. Except Emma Wold, I 
knew her very well, and loved her and admired her greatly. 
Mabel Vernon' s personality is also vivid in memory. 

Alice Paul, of course, nobody knew, she was always very 
remote. I have a slight resentment towards Alice Paul, because 
my mother would do anything that she told her she had to do for 
the suffrage movement. When my mother took that trip across the 
country in 1916, I think Pops --that is, Colonel Wood- -felt that 
she shouldn't be subjected to such physical strain, lecturing 
from the back of a car and all of that, for three months going 
across the country. 

But I don't remember the Fair in those terms, any 
involvement of my mother, I mean, and I only know from reading 
about the fact that my mother took that trip at that era. It 
was some years later, in February 1921, that 1 went East with my 

Do you remember your mother speaking at the [Warren K. ] Billings 

Billings? 1 just remember he was in jail as a conscientious 
objector. I remember seeing him and being impressed with the 
fact that I was having dinner with somebody who had been in 
prison. I think later Billings became a lover- -maybe even 
husband- -of some socially prominent woman in San Francisco. 1 


remember that he was an attractive man, but that's not a very 
precise word. 

Berkeley in 1916: House. Playmates Parks 

Caldwell: I have some more thoughts about Berkeley, the house there, and 
the fire. I was ten years old in 1916 when we moved, and we 
lived on LeRoy Avenue. There was a fire house right nearby, 
just a few doors away, and the firemen more or less brought up 
the neighborhood children. They were very interesting men, and 
they were very friendly, and they made us feel grown-up, because 
they asked us how to do algebra and things like that. 

And if you didn't have the key to your house they'd get a 
ladder and put it to the third floor and go in the window and 
come down and open your front door. And they also knitted, and 
I'd never seen men knitting. They were just part of a secure 
factor in my childhood. 

There was no electric refrigeration, people used ice boxes, 
and we would be so thrilled when the ice truck came by. while 
the ice man was delivering the ice, we would go and get the 
little chips that were in the inside of the ice wagon. 

Many old Berkeley houses- -how old is your house? 
Riess: It's about 1920. 

Caldwell: Well, then you must have a cooler. You know what a cooler is. 

This house [3 Vine Lane] was built in 1926, and it has a cooler. 
On the north side of the house there would be a cupboard with a 
screen actually on the outside, and that's where you'd keep 
things cool. That made a great impression on me. 

And then I took piano lessons in the most beautiful Maybeck 
house . Maybeck was not well known at that time . He became very 
famous later. The house burned in the '23 fire but was 
reproduced identically, because the blueprints were in San 
Francisco. I used to walk down- -it was only a block from where 
I lived- -and it made a great impression on me. My teacher was a 
warm, kind woman, Alma Schmidt -Kennedy, rather large-busted, and 
friendly, and she had a beautiful studio, still to be seen 
because it was reproduced. 

Riess: Where is that? 


Caldwell: It's right on the corner of Buena Vista and Euclid, a beautiful 
place. She had two grand pianos, and she made every child come 
and wash their hands first before they could touch her pianos. 
She made everyone feel that he or she was just wanted and loved, 
and I looked forward to going there very, very much. I was not 
at all musical, except as an appreciator. It was caring of my 
father that he would spend the money on those lessons, and on 
getting my teeth straightened. Like my mother, I had a very 
narrow jaw. He showed his fatherly concern, culturally and 

In retrospect, I appreciate his having done those things 
very, very much, and didn't realize in my mature life I'd be 
going back to that same --in a sense that same building, even 
though it's a reproduction- -to the house now owned by a man 
who's a jazz pianist, but who has classical programs as well. 
Anyway, Mrs. Kennedy was a great influence in my life. 

The district, as far as schools were concerned, had fixed 
boundaries, so that all of my playmates went to a different 
school than I did, because my house was right on the dividing 
line. I had to walk many, many blocks over to Oxford School, 
Oxford Street, while my playmates went right down the hill to 
the Hillside School. And that was very, very hard for me not to 
be sharing those same experiences. 

Riess : These are the playmates you would have fun in the afternoon 
with, at the firehouse? 

Caldwell: Yes, that's true, exactly. I loved walking by the reservoir, 

which is still there on Euclid Avenue. At that time it was not 
enclosed. It later had a very ugly wooden roof put on it. 
Earlier it was like a beautiful lake, and the caretaker spent, 
as it seemed to me, all of his days in a rowboat. I thought 
when I grew up I wanted to be a caretaker of a reservoir and 
spend my days just rowing around in a boat. 

Riess: Having lived on LeRoy, I'm sure that when you talk about 

Berkeley, memories of Berkeley, you have memories of the Temple 
of the Wings. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, I do. That was very funny, because we went to school 
with some of the Boynton children, and they were vegetarians. 
They were always trying to exchange their peanut butter 
sandwiches for our roast beef ones. [laughs] But I don't 
remember them at all, except this sandwich exchange idea. 

Riess: You didn't go up there for dancing classes yourself? 


Caldwell: No. I wasn't allowed to dance. I was never allowed to dance, 
and there were never any cards allowed in the house, so I don't 
know how to play bridge or anything about cards at all . And the 
one thing I would dearly love to do is to dance well, and I 
never got a chance. My husband and I used to dance some, and of 
course I went to dances as an adult, but I never felt at ease. 

One of the things I remember very vividly about early 
Berkeley was that lovely little park, down at University and 
Shattuck, which has now got buildings on it. Lovely- -there are 
lots of pictures of it. Trees, and grass, and that's where you 
took the train to go to the ferry boat to San Francisco. You 
either went Key Route or Southern Pacific. And you could go 
every twenty minutes, and it only took about forty, and it was 
marvelous. I remember, as so many hundreds of people still 
remember, the pleasure of the trip to San Francisco by boat, and 
train, and it was so fast. And so delightful! 

Later on I was on the Berkeley Art Commission here, and 
aware of where we had parks and where we didn't, and how we 
treated our streets. So I think that- -I consciously return to 
the memory of that lovely little park, and how outraged I was 
when, because Berkeley wanted more revenue from taxation, they 
replaced it with these horrible buildings. 

Albert's Experiments 

Riess: All the time you were with your father, Albert was always living 
there too? 

Caldwell: Yes, he was there. He had the whole top floor of that 

three -story house. There were two bedrooms up there, and one 
was his laboratory, scientific laboratory, and the other his 
bedroom. And during the first world war- -maybe I mentioned 
this --he had a radio, and he was not allowed to have an aerial 
outside, he was not allowed to have an aerial at all, so he 
erected one inside. But one day a policeman came and put an end 
to that. I'll never forget going to the door and seeing the 
policeman asking for my brother! Scared to death! 

Riess: How did the policeman find out? 

Caldwell: I'm not sure. It must have been because he was communicating 
with other radio fans. 


He was very, very advanced in his scientific interest, 
whether it was chemistry, or mechanics. He worked in the 
summer- -which was very unusual for students then- -in order to 
earn money for his equipment, for his laboratory. 

An Independent Child. Transportation 

Riess: The train went out to the Bay, didn't it, to meet the ferry? 
I'm thinking of what we now think of as the Berkeley pier. 

Caldwell: Oh, that was much later, many years later. No, we went down to 
Oakland by train, right to the edge of the water, and then got 
on the boat. 

The Berkeley pier was much, much later, after I came here 
to live as an adult with my husband. My first job was at the 
Legion of Honor, and it only took fifteen minutes from the end 
of the Berkeley pier to Hyde Street in San Francisco. And then 
I just drove through the Presidio to the Legion of Honor. 
Really and truly, it took only thirty- five or forty minutes in 
all. But that was many years later. 

In those earlier days there was a train down to Oakland, 
right to the edge of the water, as I said before, and there we 
got on the boat. You see, my memory of getting to San Francisco 
is much earlier, this other way. Of course, I was very young. 
I went with my brother. Then, of course, after he died I went 
alone, although I remember going alone when I was younger, 
before his death. 

I remember on landing they had a rope they put in front of 
people, particularly the business people who couldn't wait to 
get off the boat and rush to their offices. They had a rope, 
and then they'd drop the rope, and you'd rush off onto the 
shore. Once- -I couldn't have been more than seven--! was 
crossing alone, and my pants fell down to the ground just at the 
moment that they dropped the rope. [laughter] I was 
amazingly --looking back, I wouldn't have known the word 
"composed," but I remember I stepped out of them, stuck them in 
my pocket, and walked on. [laughs] 

And I used to walk up from the ferry building oftentimes to 
my mother's home. I either took the cable car up to Pacific and 
Taylor, or I would walk. Sometimes right through Chinatownof 
course, the Chinese are very, very protective of children. It 
was only when I was an adolescent and walked through the Italian 


district and there were the whistles that I worried, but then I 
wasn't worried about attack, I was just embarrassed. 

I must say one thing about crossing the Bay. I loved it, 
but there were times when the boat actually would get confused 
in the fog, and have a hard time finding the pier. I was a 
little apprehensive about that, but also I thought it was quite 
an adventure. 

I did everything alone. I was so much alone and on my own. 
The only thing I didn't like about that was after I became old 
enough so that it wasn't necessary to have a housekeeper, there 
would be nobody home when I came home from school. That's why I 
became so fond of dogs. I had a dog, and I would go out walking 
all by myself up in the hills --which of course you would never 
dream to do now, it's too dangerous. But this was when I was in 
high school. 

There was no housekeeper, but I can't remember doing any 
cooking. My father must have gotten the dinner. I was never 
brought up to be domestic. I made my bed, very badly, and that 
was all. Didn't do any cleaning, didn't do any cooking. 

One time, later on--. I was still in high school. 1 was 
very much hoping that my father would remarry, and there was a 
woman he was attracted to. She was accustomed to perfection in 
the house and food. My mother and Pops- -as I called Colonel 
Wood- -also wished that my father would remarry, and they had 
their cook cook a dinner. By this time I must have been able to 
drive, and I drove my mother's car and brought over a meal that 
had been cooked by my mother's cook. 

I didn't lie, but it was just assumed by this lovely lady 
that I had prepared this dinner, and I was such a 
well-brought-up young lady, and my father must be --[ laughs ]. I 
think that was kind of amusing, to think that my mother and 
stepfather's cook would have prepared this dinner for my father 
and his lady friend. And indeed they were married, later, after 
I left the house . 

I also , from those days , remember going down the Vine Lane 
steps, down to Shattuck and Vine streets, to meet my father 
coming home on the train from San Francisco. When we first came 
to Berkeley he was still working at the YMCA in San Francisco, 
as an employment secretary, before he got himself established in 
the church in Berkeley. So I used to go down and meet him. 
There is a building on the corner of Vine and Shattuck with a 
sort of cupola on it that goes back to the last century; it's 


still there. It was a meat market then; it's a produce market 

I used to go down the Vine Lane steps , and I remember my 
father, as he passed the place in Vine Lane where I now live, 
explaining to me the use of the subjunctive. [laughter] I also 
didn't know that it was the first lane in Berkeley, first one of 
these pedestrian passageways from one street to another. Nor 
that I'd ever live there. But I became very fond of this north 
Berkeley area. 

Riess: And all of these passageways were really designed to work with 
public transportation, weren't they? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. Since people didn't have cars then, universally, as 
they do now. Every member of a family now has a car. 
Unbelievable, to me. My father had a car, but he didn't use it 
except for recreation, and fund-raising for his church. 

When I was ten my father and my brother and I bicycled all 
the way from Berkeley to Point Lobos . We went over the Santa 
Cruz mountains , but I can assure you we came home on the train 
with our bikes in the baggage car. We got to San Jose the first 
day, and that was fifty miles. But from then on, when we got to 
the Santa Cruz mountains, we walked our bikes. They didn't have 
gears in those days. Probably passed by what was later on the 
site of The Cats. 

Riess: Well, isn't that a wonderful memory! 

Caldwell: Yes, it was a wonderful memory, except it was so exhausting. We 
stopped overnight in the Santa Cruz mountains at some religious 
resort that my father knew about. The most beautiful moment was 
coming over the pass when we saw the ocean. Of course, it was a 
two -lane highway then. 

I think Point Lobos and Yosemite were the greatest natural 
sights of my childhood, that I really recognized as beautiful. 
Just not "nice to be here, out in the open," but of great 
natural beauty. 

Father and Daughter 


Tell me more about your father. 


Caldwell: My relationship with my father was always a very warm one, but I 
was terribly distressed, of course, about his anger, and he was 
angry most of the time. Not at me or my brother but at the 
disruption of his life. He was very, very strict with us about 
going to church and that kind of thing, but very loving, took us 
on all kinds of expeditions and so on. [phone rings] 

Riess: In the summer of 1917 you went with your father to visit his 

family in Cincinnati. Do you have strong recollections of that 

Caldwell: Yes, I have. His mother and father had died, so only his 

sisters and brothers were living. I remember going to the house 
where my father's family- -my father's father was very much 
interested in music, not as a musician but an appreciator. They 
had two pianos, and chamber music on one night a week. 

My grandfather was at the time quite a noted lithographer. 
He's probably not of any note now, but he is listed in the 
history of American lithography. I know more about my 
grandparents through my mother's stories about them. My mother 
liked his mother and father. In any case, I didn't meet my 
grandparents at all. I just remember it was a large house, and 
I hated the heat --the hot summer. 

I felt sorry for my father. When we were too young, we 
couldn't put it in those words, but he was a lonely man, and we 
were all he had. And we didn't even phrase it that way, but we 
sensed it. I always went to church with my father- -well, he 
required that. 

What I really resented as a child, living up there on LeRoy 
Avenue, was on Wednesday nights I was forced to go to prayer 
meeting, and in the neighborhood my young friends --that's 
another reason I was cut off from my peers --they were at one 
another's houses dancing. And I had to go to prayer meeting. 
This I resented. 

Riess: They were dancing on Wednesday nights? 

Caldwell: In their homes, yes, and it happened to be Wednesday, prayer- 
meeting night. They just agreed on that. It was like a little 


Social Isolation and Self-Consciousness 

Caldwell: I felt very socially Isolated from my contemporaries because of 
these circumstances. It was very hard for me to feel a part of 
my age group. On the weekends, we went to San Francisco. 
Wednesday night I had to go to prayer meeting. 

And I also felt very self-conscious about my clothes. I 
wasn't badly dressed, but nobody kind of oversaw that, and I 
have a self -consciousness about whether I'm properly dressed for 
a social occasion, to this day. I associate with people in 
Pacific Heights in San Francisco in connection with the Asian 
Art Museum, and I'm always so aware of what they're wearing, in 
a ridiculous way, because I don't really spend much time 
thinking about those things ordinarily. 

There were all kinds of things. For example, I remember we 
had the domestic science circle classes in junior high school, 
and the other girls' mothers had taught them how to sew and 
cook, and I knew nothing. My father had a housekeeper or a 
relative who lived in and took charge. 

I knew nothing about cooking or sewing, and I remember 
working way into the night, so late that my father insisted I 
had to go to bed, making a buttonhole, and I pricked my finger 
at the last. And even though one could wash out the blood with 
cold water, I didn't know things like that. So all I got was a 
bawl ing- out in front of the whole class about having turned in 
my buttonhole with a little blood stain on it. And I hated the 
domestic science teacher from then on. 

Riess: Vere you a good student? 

Caldwell: Yes, I was a good student. Except in arithmetic, in 

mathematics. Even as a little girl, I was slow at any kind of 
arithmetic. Worst in the class, probably. It was only recently 
that I understood what algebra is about. I got a terrible grade 
in algebra. But otherwise, I learned to read very quickly. 
After all, I came from a literary family, and I was read to from 
the earliest I can remember. 

Riess: And you thought of reading as a wonderful thing to be doing. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. And Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit- -to this day I think 
it's a fine piece of literature. [laughs] I thought I had 
learned to read when I was four, because I memorized that book, 
and told my uncle, my mother's only brother, that I could read. 


But I had it upside down, 
reading it. 

And I really seriously thought I was 

Years later, when I was with Jim Caldwell in the lake 
country in England, we visited Beatrix Potter's estate, which 
had been given to the National Trust, to the government. I was 
so excited, and the custodian motioned to me personally and took 
e in another room and said, "Ve've never had anybody here so 
devoted to Beatrix Potter. I have two pictures of her left, and 
you may have one." I have to this day this picture of Beatrix 
with her dog. Loving dogs, I chose that. 

Riess : Did your father have friends among the faculty people at 

Caldwell: No, he didn't know very many- -he may have known, but you see, I 
didn't have any social life to speak of in Berkeley. Either 
adult, or of my own generation. I was always on weekends over 
in San Francisco. My father had some very nice friends through 
his church, but I don't remember very much contact with the 
University, although he may have had. 

I remember he was a great environmentalist, and how upset 
he was at putting the [UC Berkeley] stadium where it was, and 
cutting down the trees. 1 remember his rage as we stood there 
and watched these beautiful trees being cut down, and the 
inappropriateness of putting it there and so on. 

And he would take us on trips to Yosemite where we would 
camp, and down to Point Lobos, Carmel . He was always taking us 
out on expeditions into nature , and my love of nature comes from 
my father. Ve had very nice outings together. But always God 
was brought into it. We had to pray. 

Riess: Was your father an activist as an environmentalist? 

Caldwell: I don't know about that. 1 don't think people were organized 
activists, so to speak, so much in those days. And of course, 
then as now, the power of the university is so strong that 
protests against any plans they have are just almost- -just 
talking to the wind. 

Riess: No "power of the pulpit?" 

Caldwell: [laughs] Oh, no, no. He was never a famous clergyman at all. 
He always had a small church, very modest. Very modest. 


He came from a very- -my mother talks about it- -very 
Bohemian, fun-loving, beer-drinking, music-loving German family. 
He was considered sort of a maverick. [laughs] 

Riess: Do you think that behind the scenes your mother was in touch 
with your father and his planning for your upbringing? 

Caldwell: No, not at all. She was not in touch with him at all. She 

didn't want to have anything to do with him. And she just had 
nothing to do with where we were or how we were educated or 
anything, nothing, at that time. Not until I went to college. 

Riess: She must have had a great faith in your father. 

Caldwell: I think she was so absorbed in her suffrage work and in Colonel 
Wood- -she knew we were safe, she knew we were protected and safe 
in my father's care. But I don't really think it concerned her 
very much. This, in looking backwhen I say this, I don't say 
this with any resentment. I'm just trying to be realistic about 
her state of mind. Her world did not include us as focal parts 
of her life. 

Uniqueness of Being a Child of a Suffrage Leader 

Riess: Have you known children of other suffrage leaders who had a 
parallel experience? 

Caldwell: Oh, heavens, they didn't have children! I remember- -I've 

forgotten who it was now- -some woman in my mother's web who had 
a child, and she said, "What can I do with the child?" My idea 
as a girl was that having a child, for an intelligent woman, was 
just a terrible burden, psychologically speaking. All these 
women, wringing their hands about "what to do with the child!" 

Riess: So at least you've read of parallel experiences. 

Caldwell: Not really, no. 

Riess: But you know about this hand-wringing. 

Caldwell: Yes, but I had no contemporaries who had a situation like mine. 

Riess: Once Sara and the Colonel were living together, were you teased 
or tortured about that? 


Caldwell: Silence when I'd come in the room, because they were gossiping. 
Here in Berkeley particularly. Not in San Francisco, because of 
course they were very much sought-after and venerated there. In 
Berkeley I would come in the room and know that the sudden 
ceasing of the conversation was because they were gossiping. 
When I was older I was more amused than dismayed by this . 

Riess: Are you talking about a peer group or parents of your friends? 

Caldwell: These were the adults. I don't ever remember any awareness that 
people my own age had any thoughts about my mother and Colonel 
Wood. They either didn't know about it, or they were 
indifferent. I think they just didn't know. No, it was always 
adults that were gossipy. 

Riess: So school was a refuge, school was a neutral place. 

Caldwell: I had a good time at school until my brother's death, and that 
just changed my whole attitude, I think, my whole mood of 
carefree -ness and feeling my own age. 

But this disapproval --the only time I was discriminated 
against was not being accepted in the Town and Gown Club here in 
Berkeley. That was when I was twenty- five and came back as a 
young wife with my husband. One woman cast the vote against me, 
black-balled me because of my mother. "Not the daughter of that 
woman," she said. 

And the joke was that later on, in '39 and '40 when I had 
charge of all the lectures at the fair on Treasure Island, I was 
kind of a public figure. And they wanted me to come to lecture 
there, and I turned them down. With great glee. Later my 
husband, who read poetry very eloquently, was asked, and he also 
turned them down. No, I've gone to lots of affairs there, 
invited by friends, musical events or something, but I had never 
any idea that I ever wanted to belong to it. That was probably 
a petty vindictiveness . 

Sara's First Address in San Francisco 

Riess: Before Sara and your stepfather were living together in San 
Francisco, she had an apartment of her own? 

Caldwell: She lived on Taylor Street, just up the street from the later 
Broadway house, for a long time, 1601 Taylor Street, the place 


she lived for years, long before Pops came down to live 
permanently in California. 

It was an old house which survived the earthquake and fire . 
It was half of a house; the people who owned it had had a 
dispute, and they just cut the house in two and took one of the 
halves away. Anyway, it had an upstairs apartment, and she 
lived there for a long time. That's where my brother and I used 
to go and see her when we came over. Of course, my brother 
never knew the Broadway house. 

But we used to go to see her there, and on those occasions 
she would make us an apple pie. The two times I ever remember 
my mother cooking were when she fixed the Triscuits in Portland 
and when she baked an apple pie on Russian Hill. 

Riess: When you visited her, would you go to the theater or do things? 

Caldwell: No, we didn't. It's interesting, we didn't do anything. We 

never went away from the house as I can remember. We might have 
gone to a movie, but I don't remember that. We were just glad 
to see her at home. We didn't need any entertainment other than 
my mother. And I remember, those were very precious hours with 
her. Nowadays, children have so much in their lives, but we 
never even thought in terms of needing entertainment, other than 
my mother; she was enough in herself. 

Riess: And you would be there for the day, not for overnight? 

Caldwell: No, we would stay overnight. We would go on Friday, but my 

father required us to be back for church on Sunday, so we went 
back on Saturday late afternoon, and we were resentful of the 
fact that we were required to come back for church. 

Riess: Did you have to share her time with any friends? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. Well, not so much in the Taylor Street house. It was 
later on, when they moved into the Broadway house, and there was 
so much entertainment, always people there. Of course, Pops did 
come down to the Taylor Street house, too, from time to time. 
That's when I really got over my resentment of him and became 
fond of him. 

I can remember the artist, [Beniamino] Bufano. I can't 
quite remember how it was that Pops began to be interested in 
Bufano, but I remember he stayed at the house one time, at the 
Taylor Street house. But Pops just came down occasionally to 
see Mother then in that house, and then later on bought the 
large house on the corner. 


Riess: And did you have feelings of shame or of wanting to hide these 
visits from your friends? 

Caldwell: Oh, no. On the contrary, everybody knew it anyway. There was 
nothing to hide; it was out in the open. No, I had great pride 
in her. I felt no shame whatsoever. I felt anxiety for my 
mother sometimes, but no shame. No, I thought they were 
marvelous. And of course, it was very interesting to know their 
friends, and I became fonder and fonder of Colonel Vood. He was 
loving and kind, and he treated me like his own daughter. 

Riess: Berkeley I think of as a sophisticated and forgiving community. 
Caldwell: Not then, not the Baptist Church world I lived in here. 


Albert Ehrgott with his children Albert, Jr., and Katherine, circa 



The Accident. 1918. and Aftermath 

Gal dwell: Would you like me to tell about the accident? 

Riess: Yes. I know we are coming up to that point in your life 

history. And we've been careful not to repeat what you wrote in 
your "Afterword" to Sara's oral history, but I think we should 
include your account of the accident that resulted in your 
brother's death, and that was so traumatic for your mother and 

Cal dwell: All right. My brother and I were never supposed to see Colonel 
Wood. My father referred to him as "that man." And one of the 
hardest things about it for me was to have to tell lies. Mother 
couldn't very well say, "Erskine, dear, the children are coming 
for the weekend, will you please go stay with your daughter Lisa 
out in Lake Street." Anyway, I did see him, and I had to 
pretend I did not. And it's very important to know that, 
because of the terrible anguish, double anguish, for my father, 
because of the circumstances of the automobile accident which 
occurred later. So we used to try to think up all kinds of ways 
of going to see my mother when my father wasn't home. 

In any case, my mother had readily acceded to my 
stepfather's request that she learn how to drive a car. She was 
not mechanically-minded at all. But to him, everybody drove a 
car by this time, you see, and it was nothing- -it's like typing 
on the typewriter. Everybody could learn it. So she took 
lessons and learned it. But she never really liked it. 

We went off on a picnic in October of 1918. It was a 
holiday, Columbus Day, so my brother, who was the president of 
his high school, a senior, very much loved, he could go too, and 
so could I. 


We went over in the car --remember there were no bridges 
then, just an auto ferry- -to Marin County, and we had a picnic. 
After that we looked at the schedule and thought it was time to 
go back to get a ferry boat back to San Francisco. But my 
brother said, "Oh, I'd like to show you a place I love hiking 
with my friends," because he had friends in Marin County. So 
instead of taking that next ferry, we made a detour. This is 
all so memorable, because of the terrible events that followed. 

Ve went up a hill outside of Kentfield called White's Hill. 
It was getting quite steep. There seemed no place to turn 
around, and we thought we should certainly get back for the next 
auto ferry. So my mother started to make a U-turn on this very 
teep hill, and all of a sudden--! think part of the bank on the 
steep side was a little loamy, rather soft all of a sudden the 
car started, perhaps at ten miles an hour or less, to just creep 
over towards the edge . 

I remember Pops shouting, "Sara, put on the brake!" Then 
the next thing I knew we were slowly, so slowly it was like a 
slow-motion movie, like when in the Olympics now they replay 
somebody diving and slow down the motion, it was just like that, 
we rolled over and over and over slowly to the bottom of this, I 
guess about forty-foot- -I'm just guessing at the height of 
it- -canyon. 

My mother and my brother and I were all trapped under the 
car. I was sort of dazed by all this, you know, and I was 
trapped by my arm. I wasn't hurt in any way, but I was trapped. 
I could see that Pops was the only one thrown free of the car, 
and that his nose was broken. Blood was pouring down his face. 
And of course, he was very old--. He started up the hill; he 
said, "I'll go get help." 

I wondered then, though I was only twelve, whether he would 
make it physically. He looked in such bad shape. Then I 
realized my brother was making--! can't exactly say groaning 
noises- -my mother knew he was dying, I didn't. As I was told 
later, the engine of the car crushed his chest. 

My mother and I were both trapped. She says in her oral 
history that I was hysterical. I wasn't hysterical at all; I 
was frightened. I said to her, "Do you think we're going to 
die?" I was so grateful to her that she didn't say, "Oh, no, of 
course not." She said, "Darling, I don't know." And I was very 
grateful for her to say it. 

Riess: Why were you grateful? 


Caldwell: Because I knew it was realistic. I was old enough to know that 
we might die. So if she had said, "Of course we won't," I would 
have known that wasn't necessarily true. 

Then she and I shouted for help. But in those days people 
shifted gears, which made a great noise if you were on a steep 
hill . So to shout to try to call for help was useless , because 
that was just the point where the noise of their car would have 
drowned out our cries . 

And after what seemed an interminable time , all of a sudden 
some people came . Pops had found a group of high school 
students who were on a hike from the Tamalpais High School. 
They came and they lifted the car. I was so terrified of being 
trapped. But I didn't express my terror. My mother, in the 
oral history, seems to think I was hysterical, but I was not. 
I'll never forget my relief at being released. 

Of course, I had no idea that my brother was seriously 
hurt. Mother did, but I had no idea. And that her left leg was 
almost severed. It was saved for her by an army surgeon who 
during the war had learned how to do grafting and saved her leg. 
But I knew nothing about her being seriously injured or my 
brother being dead. 

So he died then and there, and was not taken to a hospital. 

They took us to the Kentfield Hospital, and Mother and Pops 
were each put in separate rooms to be taken care of. I had 
absolutely no one to turn to, but no one. I went in to see my 
mother, and she said, "Don't speak to me." She was in such 
anguish. So that was a rejection of--. I can feel the coldness 
to this day in my heart. But I also realized, because by this 
time I knew my brother had died, what anguish she was in. 

Then my father, my own father, who was in a distant town 
when this happened, raising money for his church, he came, and 
of course you can imagine! We were never supposed to see "that 
man," and these terrible consequences of this particular 

He took me back to Berkeley, and I don't remember my- -this 
is where I really blank out because of the trauma of all of 
this. I don't remember anything more about what happened except 
the incident that I told you about disguising myself to try to 
visit my mother, because I hadn't seen her for such a long time 
since that accident, and knew she was in this house in 
Kentfield. [see following] 


Why my mother said in her oral history, "Albert's death had 
little effect on Kay, she never mentions it," I cannot 
understand. My God! I have a very dear friend, Elizabeth 
Ellcus , who thinks that the hardest thing that happened to me in 
my childhood was losing my brother. He was such a strong 
support and delightful companion. I relied on him. He just 
meant everything to me. And we both were, had to be, mature 
beyond our years. 

Riess: Had Albert helped you understand what was happening? 

Caldwell: No. I always understood that my mother--! never ever, for all 
that Mother mentioned so often that my brother understood her 
love for Colonel Wood, I never questioned the fact that it was 
right for her to leave my father. Never. I never thought, "Oh, 
why didn't she stay?" or anything like that. Never. I just 
accepted it. 

But Albert, because of the circumstances of the divorce and 
our loving our mother and always wanting to somehow or other get 
to see her, we had this great bond, too, you see. And 
conspiratorial often, because of my father's prohibition of our 
seeing Colonel Wood. 

Riess: I'm struck by how psychologically out of touch your mother was. 
There's no inkling of empathy. 

Caldwell: No. And she reminded me constantly that I resembled my father, 
so I was a more painful association for her. I never could 
quite figure out what she meant by that, but anyhow, that's what 
she used to say. 

Riess: Did your father institute any legal action? 

Caldwell: Do you mean subsequent to this accident? No. He did earlier 
on; he used to threaten to have Pops arrested for bigamy. And 
he put detectives on the house when she was living on Taylor 
Street in San Francisco. But nothing ever came of that. 

Riess: You say that he, the Colonel, Pops, was so old. He always 
seemed so old? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, he always seemed to me like a very old man. After all, 
he was fifty-eight [CESW born 1852] when she first met him, so 
for a child, for a young person--! mean, not even a child, but 
even when I was much older I thought he was a very old man. 

Riess: Did you have a hard time imagining this as a passionate 


Caldwell: An interesting question- -I just accepted it as it was. I think 
maybe it did cross my mind from time to time , but they were so 
fond of one another, it was so evident that there was such a 
deep love and rapport, that I Just accepted it the way it was. 
I knew that my mother was very attractive to men wherever she 

And you see, my own father was twenty years older than she, 
and Colonel Vood was thirty years older, or practically so. But 
my father didn't seem old the way Pops did. He never seemed 
like an old man to me at all. 

Painful Memories. Visits 

Caldwell: The real binding of my loving relationship with my stepfather 
happened later, at the time of my mother's nervous breakdown, 
and the aftermath of her care in the house on Russian Hill. 1 I 
didn't go into much detail about that in the "Afterword" to my 
mother's oral history, the terrible time, turning that house 
into a hospital. The details of her nervous breakdown were just 
appalling, physically. And the arrangements of the house, 
making it almost like a prison, her room. 

Riess: Could you feel that coming on, the nervous breakdown? 

Caldwell: I was too- -how old was I?- -I was about thirteen. I didn't know 
enough about it, but of course, she was not herself, that's the 
thing. It was about a year after my brother's death, and she 
was driving, you see, when he was killed, and this made her 
suicidal. Didn't want to live any more. 

Riess: She had recovered from the physical effects of it? 

1 There was no breakdown in 1918, after my brother's death. Obviously 
depression. I would suggest we make a distinction between a depression and a 
nervous breakdown. Certainly she was depressed, but she did not have a 
transformation of personality or an inability to control her life. A breakdown 
did not occur until Los Gatos. That had to be after the acquisition of Los 
Gatos. When we would go there weekends, because we only went there weekends, we 
would live in a little shack that had been on the property, awaiting the 
completion of the house. Although for a date, to save my life, I can't figure 
out exactly when they acquired that property at Los Gatos. [KC] 





Caldwell : 

Yes, she had, but she became psychologically utterly disturbed. 
She didn't have any signs of that at that time, right after the 
accident. It just came on slowly. 

Right after the accident they were in Kentfield? 

Yes, I think she describes in her oral history that her leg was 
almost severed in the accident, and an army surgeon who had new 
techniques of bone healing saved it from amputation. So they 
stayed in Kentfield quite a while for that reason, because she 
was convalescing from this. And I was forbidden to go to see 
her, because my father forbade us ever to see Colonel Wood. 

This is an amusing thing: I missed her very much- -I was 
only twelve. My father was out of town, and I went up to the 
attic here in Berkeley, and I got a little old-fashioned 
raincoat with a hood attached to it, Little Red Riding Hood or 
something like that. And I got a doll that had yellow hair--. 
I wanted to disguise myself because 1 had once had the terrible 
experience of somebody's saying to my father, "Oh, I saw your 
daughter and the most interesting- looking man having lunch, with 
long hair and a beard," and my father knew I had seen Colonel 
Wood, and there had been a very great to-do about that. 

I was determined to go over by myself from Berkeley to 
Kentfield, and that involved many pieces of transportation. And 
remember, there were no bridges, no people driving you in cars. 
So anyway, I got the doll with the yellow hair, and I took it 
off, and I put this hood around my face and put the yellow hair 
on my forehead and on either side of my face. I took a cane, 
and limped, and I thought if anybody saw me, they wouldn't know 
who I was . 

Of course-- [phone rings] oh, I'm so sorry, 
portable phone . 

I'll get my 

Yes. Let's not stop that story. So there you were--. 

Well, getting to San Anselmo was quite a problem because, of 
course, there were nothing but ferries across the Bay, so I had 
to go take a train down to the Bay, and then the ferry boat to 
San Francisco. Then I had to take a ferry boat to Sausalito, 
and then I got onto a railroad train, and got off at Kentfield. 

I had never gone there before by myself, and so I had some 
difficultyand it was pouring rain, that was the reason for the 
raincoat. Finally, I somehow or other managed to find the 
house. And you must remember that though I was only twelve, 


that nobody in my life shepherded me around anywhere, 
entirely on my own. 

I was 

1 opened the door and Colonel Wood said, "Kay, darling!" 
And 1 burst into tears and said, "Oh, you recognized me!" 
Because I thought my disguise was so perfect. By this time, of 
course, the rain had washed the yellow hair away, it was sort of 
sticking to my face, and not connected to my head at all. 

Riess: It's a desperate story, isn't it. 

Caldwell: Yes, it really was. Anyway, that was a memorable event. A very 
triumphant one that 1 got there and had a chance to see my 
mother. And I didn't see her for a long time after that because 
of the prohibition on seeing Colonel Wood. 

Another time a little later, a long time went by, and they 
had rented a house nearby, in Mar in County. I wanted to see my 
mother. So my father said he would take me, but it must be 
clear that Colonel Wood would not be in sight. My mother's 
older sister, Mary Parton, who lived in San Francisco, had come 
over to Kentfield to be of use. And she mixed up the date, and 
as we- -I think I told this in the oral historyas we approached 
the house there was my mother reclining on a chaise, and my 
stepfather's arm around her. 

You can imagine the effect on my father. We retreated, and 
my father shouted all the way back down the canyon, "You killed 
your son, you killed your son." And I remember hating my father 
at that moment for saying that. I felt that was a terrible 
thing for him to say. 

But this emphasizes the difficulty 1 had in seeing my 
mother, on account of this prohibition. My brother and I were 
always contriving ways of seeing my mother without my father 
knowing about it. 

Riess: What kind of communication did you have other than that? 
Telephone calls or letters? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, my mother called. But then I usually dissolved in 

tears, and so my father was very, very dismayed at the thought 
of too many telephone calls. He couldn't stop my mother from 
calling, but he felt- -understandably- -that this was upsetting to 
me. Yes, she called every so often. 

Riess: How did your father help you stand the pain of all of this? 


Caldwell: Veil, he felt that the influence of Colonel Wood was the most 
dreadful thing that could happen to us. See, he had no belief 
that that relationship would last. Colonel Wood had had so many 
affairs with so many women, and he thought this was just another 
affair. I was too young then to understand that this was his 
view, but as I grew older and look back on it, I see that was 
his idea. 

And also, you see, Colonel Wood was an outspoken atheist, 
and my father after all was a clergyman. He had told me when I 
was twelve that my mother would go to Hell. I then and there 
rejected Christianity, because 1 decided I'd rather go to Hell 
with her. So for me the church was no longer of any meaning 
whatsoever. I didn't want to hurt my father's feelings, and of 
course, I tried very hard not to let him know what my views were 
on that subject. 

Riess : When you would be together for those brief periods , was your 
mother all mother and trying to make up? 

Caldwell: Not really. Later on, and this is going forward in time for me, 
to seventeen, the house in San Francisco was such a center of 
cultural life, whether writers or artists or musicians, that 
they were always entertaining. They had a live -in Chinese cook, 
and whether it was breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there was always 
somebody there . And then 1 remember wishing that my mother 
would just reserve time for me, but there were all these 
distractions . 

She was so attractive to people. I felt she didn't belong 
quite to me. 1 found that difficult sometimes to take, and I 
often resented her guests, however nice they might be. However, 
she tried from time to time to compensate for this. I remember 
once she arranged a party when I was a teenager. I was so 
astonished. But that was one event. 

Her focus was on her work, on the Women's Party, and of 
course first of all on Colonel Wood. He was the center of her 
life. I accepted that, and I never felt resentful. Oh, in the 
beginning I felt very resentful of Colonel Wood, but in the 
course of time I came to love him so much that I just accepted 
that this was her- -never questioned that it was the right thing 
for her to do, to have left my brother and me to my father. I 
have friends my own age who are very censorious of my mother 
giving up her children, but 1 never felt that she had done the 
wrong thing. 

My mother never really realized- -she always talked about 
how much my brother accepted this--. I don't think she ever 






realized how completely "right" it seemed-- [laughs] you can't do 
that in quotation marksbut 1 always just accepted this was the 
way it was. I never questioned at all that she should have left 
my father. 

She was miserably unhappy, according to her own 
[testimony]. I didn't know they were unhappy. She wasn't home 
very much, even when I was a child in Portland, Oregon. I 
always think of her as leaving in the morning. And somehow or 
other, for all that my father's income was so small as a 
clergyman, we always had some kind of household help. 

Vere there mother figures , any other mother figures that came 
into your life? 

Caldwell: None at all. I felt completely on my own. 

I've always thought that one of the reasons that my 
marriage meant so much to me, aside from being very fond of my 
husband, is that it gave me a sense of security and continuity. 
So that his [Jim Caldwell 's] death at sixty-five, when 1 was 
fifty-nine, was a double blow, because again 1 was all alone, on 
my own, as I had been as an adolescent, as I had been all of my 
childhood and adolescence. There was nobody there. 

You sound admirably independent, but that's a very poignant 

This is a very personal thing, but I know you want honesty. You 
asked about the motherliness. I remember when I menstruated, it 
happened to be on a Friday, at Berkeley High School, and I went 
on over to San Francisco and expected this great event to be-- 


--and she didn't have time really. Somebody was around, and of 
course 1 wouldn't have spoken of it in the presence of a 
stranger. But I didn't feel it was made enough of. [laughter] 

When my own daughter had this event, we were traveling--! 
think we were in New Mexico- -and we had dinner, just my husband 
and my son and my daughter, and we got some wine, and we toasted 
her. We made a great thing of it, as I would have wished it had 
been done for me. But I didn't resent that it wasn't--. I felt 
a little hurt, but it didn't diminish my- -I didn't accuse her. 


Sar' Breakdown 

Riess: For all of the intellectually sophisticated people you were 

around, were any of them psychologically aware? In other words, 
did your mother know any Freudians, or Jungians? 

Caldwell : Oh, no, absolutely--. She had nothing to do with 
psychoanalysis, not any. 

And at the time of her nervous breakdown, Colonel Vood 
brought down from Napa a person they called then an alienist? 
Do you know that word? 

Riess: Yes. 

Caldwell: And of course, socially it was something you didn't talk about 
if somebody in the family had a breakdown; it was just not 
mentioned. It was not accepted as something that you could 
possibly share with other people. 

She [the alienist] was a lovely woman, wonderful person. 
The reason I have such vivid memories of her, though I do not 
remember her name, was because she turned to me when I said to 
her, "Do you think my mother will ever recover?" She gave me a 
beautiful smile and said, "Yes, she will, in a maximum of two 
years . " 

Riess: That was a wonderful gift to give you. 
Caldwell: It really was, yes. 

But she [my mother] really had to be sequestered, you see, 
in a room for that length of time, and nobody could enter the 
room, because of her suicidal impulses. No one could enter the 
room with anything with which she might harm herself. So it was 
very, very difficult, and that's when my- -I didn't go into much 
detail about her care, but that's the time that my stepfather 
and I became so close, because we both loved her so much. 

Riess: But for the first few years after the accident things seemed to 
be okay. 

Caldwell: Yes. 

Riess: Why did it take so long to manifest itself, the nervous 


Cal dwell: I think she just brooded over it [my brother's death]. They 

would go down to Los Gatos--this was before they built The Cats, 
and they had a temporary place pending the completion of the 
house, a small shack that had been on the property when they 
bought it. 

My stepfather had made these wonderful cement tables and 
benches, and they were all over the place, and my mother would 
go off every day, and there was one where she would go 
presumably to be writing poetry. But we discovered she had a 
Ouija board, and she hoped she was communicating with my 
brother. She did nothing but this, day in and day out. We 
didn't know that for a long time, we thought she was writing 

Then she got into a kind of trance , and she would go and 
stand at night in her nightgown, staring at the moon. We 
realized that she was sick, so we took her to San Francisco, and 
then arranged the house so that she could be --that she was 
perfectly safe from destroying herself. I don't know whether 
all of these details, whether you want to edit these out or not, 

First we took her to a place--. Oh, yes, she tried to hurl 
herself out of the car on the ride from Los Gatos to San 
Francisco. I knelt on the back of the car and threw my body 
across her so she couldn't leap out of the car. And when we got 
there we didn't know what to do with her, because you see, she 
might jump out of the window or something. So we had to take 
her to a perfectly awful place. We were just groping in the 
dark for a place to put her, temporarily, for her safety. We 
couldn't handle it at home. 

Riess: You took her to a hospital? 

Caldwell: Yes. Well, it was a private place that took care of mentally 

disturbed people, the best we could do, and very quickly. Then 
Colonel Wood hired somebody to put bars on the windows of the 
bedroom in the house on Broadway and Taylor in San Francisco, 
and that room was her room then for about two years . Then we 
had a nurse, of course, around the clock. See, she wanted to 
destroy herself, that was her fixation. Little by little, she 

That room she was in happened to have been my room, by the 
way, a beautiful one with a balcony. At that time I wasn't yet 
living there [not until September 1923], I Just was going over 
on weekends, my court-allotted time, there or Los Gatos. I 


think later, when her teeth were pulled, that was after I was 
living there. But I'm not absolutely sure of that. 

Riess: Were there any medications used in the treatment? 

Caldwell: I'm sure there must have been, but I wouldn't know. I wouldn't 
know a thing about that. I just know that this wonderful 
alienist came every so often, and I looked forward to that. 

We would go in to see her, but she was fixed so on her 
guilt. She was not worthy to live, that idea, you see. 

Riess: She would speak with you? 

Caldwell: Yes, but not really herself , just in such mental anguish. I 

know they gave her hot baths to relax, I remember that. That's 
the only treatment I remember. It made a great impression on 
me, that she would recline for a long time in a hot tub, with a 
nurse in attendance of course. 

Presence and Influence of Charles Erskine Scott Wood 


Caldwell : 


Colonel Wood sounds very practical . 
handle all of this. 

I mean, he was able to 

He dealt with each situation, like where to put her temporarily 
when we couldn't handle her at home. He solved problems as we 
went along. Everything was all right when he was around, 
because he was so absolutely unshakable, and he was never upset, 
except when she was dangerously ill. 

The only time I ever saw him upset with my mother was once 
when the doctor told her she mustn't drink coffee because of her 
colitis, and she sneaked around and tried to drink it when he 
wasn't looking. That was the only time I ever saw him just 
outraged that she wouldn't cooperate for the sake of her health. 

The thing that really upset him was social injustice. He 
was a calm, solid, firm and a wonderful father figure, just a 
marvelously comforting kind of person. There was nothing he 
couldn't make you feel comforted about. 

And this was the time that the two of you drew very close 


Caldwell: Yes, that's right. Long before that I'd loved him and enjoyed 
seeing him, but this was on an adult level for me, you see. We 
were adults together, as well as stepfather and stepdaughter. 

Riess: During the period of time when Sara was recovering, were there 

Caldwell: Occasionally she did have, somebody very close. But I can't 
remember who came. They had to be almost examined. Almost 
anything, even a little something, a person can turn into their 
wrists. I can't remember who came. It was such a traumatic 
thing to go in to see her, because she was so unlike her usual 
self. Only fixed on this one idea of self-destruction, and her 
guilt- -wicked, wicked woman thing. 

I think probably--! don't know this- -but I think probably 
for all her clarity of purpose in leaving my father because of 
her love of Colonel Wood, she probably had some lingering sense 
of guilt about leaving my brother and me. And I think that also 
the times that she didn't come back at Christmas because of the 
Women's Party- -that might have entered into it, along with that 
terrible, terrible trauma of losing her son. I don't know. I'm 
just guessing there. Because, of course, the real cause of her 
breakdown was his death, and the fact that she was really the 
cause of it. 

Riess: You wrote about that in the 
to write about that? 

"Afterword" . Was that hard for you 

Caldwell: Not by that time. The way I had dealt with that frightful 

experience, a traumatic crucial experience in my life, was to 
talk about it, and this I did know. A psychiatrist said it was 
important, that you mustn't bury these things. So I 
compulsively talk about it to somebody who becomes a friend, a 
new friend. Eventually it gets around to that auto accident. I 
still know how I felt trapped under that car. Of course, I 
didn't know my brother was dying. My mother did. I had no idea 
that he was in peril. 

Riess: The psychiatrist who said the most healing thing was to talk 
about the trauma, who was that?. 

Caldwell: That I learned from Helen Meiklejohn. She had had an experience 
in a railroad train where it had gone off the tracks and over a 
river at night, and she had to be rescued along with all of 
them. She was terribly funny. She said, "I was carried by an 
unknown, but very handsome, man in my nightie." [laughter] But 
she couldn't sleep at night remembering all this peril, and a 
psychiatrist told her, "You must recount this over and over and 

over." That was it. I hadn't thought of that until now; it was 
Helen Meiklejohn who told me that. 

Riess: Was Sara's recovery complete, or did you feel uneasy? 

Caldwell: No, it seemed quite complete. It was almost like waking from a 
trance, you know, a fairy-tale kind of thing. She seemed quite 

Riess: Then did it become something that was never spoken of? 

Caldwell: Yes, we didn't talk about it. I don't think it was really 

resolved to bury it; it's that we were so glad, and we just went 
on from there . 

Kay's Life on Hold 

Riess: How did your life work for those two years? 

Caldwell: After my mother recovered- -the doctor had said she would not 

recover for two years, but she recovered more quickly- -we went 
abroad. I guess that must have been the first part of '24. 

Meanwhile , always wanting to make use of time in as 
intellectually profitable a way as possible, while I was living 
in San Francisco I enrolled in a private school in Berkeley--! 
can't remember the name of it down on Telegraph Avenue. It was 
quite famous then. And I studied French and history. I 
couldn't possibly just fritter away my time! 

Riess : And this was your idea? 

Caldwell: It was my idea. And my stepfather financed it. I commuted from 
San Francisco to Berkeley, the other way around, for a few 
months pending our going to Europe. 

Then we went to Europe, I think in January of '24. And 
there again Colonel Wood and I became very close , because while 
my mother liked art, she wasn't attracted to it as strongly as I 
was. And he just loved to go to galleries, and we did this a 
lot together. 

There's this one little thing that has to do with Berkeley, 
about going to Europe. My mother hated ocean travel. She 
didn't even want to cross the English Channel by boat, though it 
doesn't take very long. So we went by air from Paris to London, 


and it was unbelievable, almost unheard of at that time to go by 
air. So it was written up in the Berkeley paper, that some 
Berkeley citizen had taken this perilous flight from Paris to 
London . 

Riess: Was it perilous? 

Caldwell: Well, I developed a severe claustrophobia after the auto 

accident, because I was trapped, but somehow or other, airplanes 
had never bothered me. You'd think one would have 
claustrophobia in the airplane, but I did not have it. I 
thought it was simply marvelous. Except that the roar in your 
ears stayed for two days. There was no protection from the 
noise . 

I knew enough about art at that time to think everything 
looked like the patterns of Cezanne, if you looked below. 

Riess: But first you had the ocean crossing. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. Poor Mother, she was sick the whole time. And I never 
was. My stepfather told me how to handle the motion of the boat 
by adjusting your stance, and that worked beautifully. 

Riess: Was there anything memorable about the trip across the country 
to board the ship? Did they stop and visit people along the 

Caldwell: No. We simply went to New York, and then we took a 

Mediterranean boat and went directly and got off at Naples, and 
went to Sorrento. 



Women's Party Meeting. Washington. 1921. Via Chicago 

Riess: Tell me about the preparations for and the trip to Washington, 
and in fact, your mother's decision to take you. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, and I was only fifteen. That's rather interesting. 
You see, the railroad trains were perfectly wonderful at that 
time, and I'll never forget the big send-off at the Oakland Pier 
where you'd get the train. We had a compartment, and Mrs. Kent 
was also on that train. And probably because of Colonel Wood's 
thoughtfulness and generosity, we had great baskets of fruit and 
flowers, and it was all very exciting. 

We stopped over first in Chicago, and my mother had very 
dear friends in Chicago. I immediately went on my own, walked 
to the Art Institute of Chicago. Because of Colonel Wood- -this 
was before we went abroad- -because of him, and the beautiful 
pictures in the house on Broadway in San Francisco, I had loved 
to look at paintings. 

Everyone was so astonished that I had just taken off and 
walked from the hotel by myself to the Art Institute. I 
remember that. It seemed to me a perfectly normal thing to do. 
I just wanted to go. I was very independent. I thought nothing 
of finding my way around the city by myself, because I had to do 
that in the San Francisco Bay Area, after all. 

Riess: You didn't need to ask your mother's permission, because you 
hadn't been asking it for years. 

Caldwell: That's right. Oh, there wasn't a matter of any deception 
anyhow. I mean, I Just- -yes, I wasn't used to parental 
guidance, so to speak. Anyway that's a memorable experience 
for me, going to the museum there by myself. 



Caldwell : 


Caldwell : 




When you were in Chicago were you staying with friends? 

No, we stayed at a hotel. I've got it written down somewhere 
where we stayed. It was walking distance easily from the Art 
Institute, and I always loved the Impressionists- -they have such 
a wonderful collection there. (From my stepfather I had learned 
to look at paintings as recreations of reality by talented 
individual artists.) 

Did Sara visit Hull House when you were in Chicago? 

No. I don't remember anything but the museum and these 
wonderful people named Johannsen. The man was a great labor 
leader, and his wife a marvelous person, warm and loving. Their 
son Homer was a friend of my brother, and his age, and 
supposedly I should have liked him enough to really care about 
him, but I never did care about him any more than as a friend. 
Later on, when I was at the University of Wisconsin for two 
years, I invited him up to a sorority dance, but I never had any 
romantic feelings about him at all. 

Then we went on to Washington, and we stayed at the Women's 
Party headquarters. This event --the reason we were in 
Washington was for a convention of the National Women's Party. 
I remember it was a lovely house, converted into the purposes of 
the Women's Party. I was most impressed by two things: the 
women themselves, so focused on what they were doing, and the 
men, charming men, that supported them. One of them brought me 
some Parisian perfume from Paris, Caron. I'll never forget. 

I was only a girl, but I was treated like a charming young 
woman, you see, there. And then I lobbied, and the New York 
Times carried my picture as the youngest lobbyist for the 
Women's Party. I have that picture somewhere, by the way. 

The suffrage amendment had passed in November 1920. 
lobbying, what was it? 


I don't remember, I just walked around and knocked on doors. 
There were always "rights" to be endorsed. I'm amazed to think 
of my confidence then. Now I could no more do anything like 

You knocked on doors in the halls of Congress? 


What was your line? 

I don't remember that. I just remember doing this. 



of California, Youngest 
Delegate to the Convention of the National 
Woman's Party in Washin -ton, Attended by 
Women From More Thi-n Thirty States. 


Riess: And who were the "charming men?" 

Cal dwell: They were lawyers, and they were people who marched--! was told, 
I didn't see this --in a parade on Fifth Avenue in New York in 
favor of the suffrage amendment. 

I wasn't aware of any stiff -collared, severe feminists at 
all- -except for Alice Paul, she was severe. She was really a 
formidable person just to sit in the room with. I wouldn't have 
known how to express it then, but I didn't feel you could make 
any personal relationship with her. 

But in any case, I remember the pleasure of staying in this 
beautiful place. I was terribly ill at one time, just stomach 
upset, and I was embarrassed about that, more than anything. My 
mother tells in the oral history about when she went to present 
the cup commemorating early suffragists, and I was afraid and 
disoriented when I couldn't find her in this great mob. 

Riess: Why don't you tell that story? 

Caldwell: She was invited to present a cup in memory of the three famous 
suffragists in the beginning of the century: Susan B. Anthony, 
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Lucretia Mott. And that cup is down 
here at The Bancroft Library. They don't like to receive 
artifacts, but they did receive that one. 

Riess: You were supposed to have been in the audience somewhere? 

Caldwell: Yes, I was in the audience alone, you know, and I was really 

scared then when afterward I could not find my mother. The only 
time I remember panicking in my day was then. I really 
panicked. I don't remember how I found her, but I finally did, 
and I remember I was really upset. 

Riess: Sara mentions sitting in the front row on that occasion with 
Jane Ad dams . 

Caldwell: But 1 don't remember meeting Jane Addams . 1 probably did, but I 
don't remember. Later, when I graduated from high school, I 
told you 1 was one of the graduation speakers, and my topic was 
Jane Addams. So I knew who she was, but somehow or other--! 
probably did meet her, but it didn't make any impression. I 
knew my aunt, my mother's sister, Mary Parton, had worked at 
Hull House. 

1 don't know how 1 ever was able to make a public speech. 
That was my first appearance in public, and I was so nervous 



Caldwell : 

Caldwell : 



because Mother and Pops and my father were all in the audience . 
They tried to hide, Mother and Pops, way up on top, but I knew 
they were there, and I was nervous as the dickens about that, 
lest my father should see them. 

To go back a bit, why did your mother decide to take you to 
Washington? Vas this a kind of coming- of -age trip or something? 

I don't know, because 1 had to be excused from school, 
course, I was enormously pleased. 

And of 

In your mother's oral history in the chronology the dates 
indicate that you went back in February 1921. 

Veil, I know it wasn't snowing, because as a Califoraian, I 
wouldn't have forgotten that. It was nice weather. 

Your mother had decided this was important for you. 

I don't know why she took me. 
pleased. Such a rare thing. 

But of course, I was enormously 

When you shared the compartment on the train, was this a time 
when there was kind of an opportunity for intimacy between the 
two of you? 

No. Always, my brother and I both felt that everything was Just 
marvelous when we were with my mother. She was an exciting 
person, and she was very, very affectionate and demonstrative. 
But she was always preoccupied, too, with her own affairs. But 
on the other hand, when I say preoccupied, I don't mean that she 
didn't acknowledge a person and make a personal relationship; 
she did that too. But fundamentally, she was- -this was a big 
responsibility for her. 

I guess the question I have is, do you think your mother was 
beginning to see you as a separate person who was being brought 
up to carry on the movement in some way? 

Caldwell: I don't think that. 

I came across a little book, I'm ashamed to say I hadn't 
remembered it at all, that she gave me when I graduated from 
high school, with three poems to me in it. And every one of 
them was how sad I was. And even earlier in that little 
notebook that she kept when she was in that sanitarium in 
Pasadena in 1913 she spoke about how I was sad, and she saw 
great sorrow for me in my life. Well, of course, she brought it 


on, to a great extent. But I never, ever resented her for her 
leaving my father. I Justthis is the way it was. 

Riess : Vere there hints that in taking you to Washington she was 
opening a door for you? 

Caldwell: No, I don't think so. I think it was Just a nice thing for her 
to do at that point, and easy to do. I don't know how I ever 
got permission to leave school, and my father's permission, but 
anyway, we did that. 

I Just felt I was part of the suffrage movement, and very 
excited about it. The lobbying to me was of course an adult 
thing to be doing, too. But yes, I took on the attitudes of my 
mother. She was a very, very persuasive and enthusiastic 
person. I thought she was Just wonderful, and it was a great 

Incidentally, at that time, at fifteen, I had my first 
lesson in I guess economic injustice. Maybe that's not the way 
of phrasing it, but I remember my aunt became radicalized by 
Darrow. She stopped working for Jane Addams, for Hull House, 
because Darrow had persuaded her that doing social work was Just 
"mopping the floor with the faucet on," and- -I suppose this is a 
cliche now- -in order to really overcome social injustice, you 
had to have a new system by not having that source. And that 
made a great impression on me, that image. [A recent- -June 
1993 --book on Darrow by Geoffrey Cowan describes vividly my Aunt 
Mary's relation to Darrow. RFC] 

The Adult World. San Francisco 

Caldwell: Really, as far as my mother was concerned, I lived in an adult 
world. There were no other people my age, anywhere. And I 
liked these people. I thought they were wonderful people. When 
I would go to San Francisco, there would never be any young 

My first boyfriend was Jewish, and a San Franciscan. He 
was at Harvard. I was somewhat scornful of boys my own age, as 
adolescent girls almost universally are, because girls grow up 
so much more rapidly, socially anyway, than boys do. 

Riess: How did you meet him? 

Caldwell: I met him through people in San Francisco, I can't remember Just 
how. I remember how shocked my Philadelphia aunt was that I 
should have a friend that was Jewish. You see, my parents had 


Caldwell : 

Caldwell : 

BO many Jewish friends, and they appreciated them BO much, and I 
had never known there was such a distinction. 

She wrote my mother in horror that I should be going out 
with a Jew. I was just astonished. People were people, as far 
as I was concerned. I was very much aware of racial differences 
between the Japanese in my school and whites , but not Jews . 
They were to me the most wonderful people. I have mentioned 
many, many times my affection and appreciation of the cultured 
Jews in San Francisco, because they were the ones in whose world 
I lived socially in San Francisco, and who were the creators of 
culture there, in music and art. 

Who was the boyfriend? 

His name was Bob- -Robert- -Wonnser, of S&W [Sussman, Vormser] 
company. It wasn't long, and it really wasn'the was a very 
self -centered person, and, I found, remote. [laughs] 

After you came back from that Washington trip, even though you 
were still living with your father, and you were fifteen, it 
sounds like your social life had gravitated to San Francisco. 

Yes, my social life was not with my contemporaries, with my peer 
group, it was always adults, with this one exception of Bob 
Wormser . 

Rebellion. Reconciliation. Berkeley 

Caldwell: When I graduated from junior high school I was Titania in A. 

Midsummer Night's Dream in our graduation play- -even though I 
had dark hair! 1 think I mentioned that. We had a marvelous 
time over that, a wonderful time. But my brother's death cast a 
great shadow on my life, a sobering, terrible shadow on my life. 

When I got to Berkeley High School I didn't get involved in 
school activities at all. I didn't feel part of the life of the 
school. I ran for an office one time, knowing perfectly well I 
would be defeated and that I was a kind of an excuse for 
somebody else to get elected. I felt socially isolated. But 
that, I think, is not just my situation. I think many girls 
feel that way. 

And then, of course, as I told you, my father required me 
to go to prayer meeting on Wednesday evenings here in Berkeley 


up on LeRoy Avenue, and all of my friends were meeting at one 
another's nouses on Wednesday evenings to dance. I couldn't do 
this. I did feel resentful about that. 

Riess: Did you discuss that with him? 

Caldwell: No. You see, girls then didn't confront their parents. They 

accepted what they were told. It's quite a different world now. 
There was no rebellion then; I did exactly what my father told 
me I had to do . 

A little bit later I felt a secret rebellion. I remember 
doing something that was very, very* -I was frightfully good, 
just awfully good, and that's too bad- -but anyway, I remember 
taking a piece of chalk and going to the Baptist Church down on 
Dana Street when nobody was looking and writing on the board, 
"Down with the church!" And I felt deliciously wicked! I 
wouldn't have offended my father, would never let him know I had 
done this, but I had the most wonderful sense of release in 
doing that. 

That was my only kind of rebellion. That, and once eating 
all of the chocolate desserts that our housekeeper had fixed for 
the family for dinner! She couldn't believe it. She Just 
laughed, instead of scolding me. The only times I ever remember 
being consciously a very bad girl. 1 was painfully, painfully 

Riess: Do you know now any of the girls you were in high school with? 

Caldwell: One, to whose house 1 went to a party after I graduated from 

Berkeley High School. She died recently. She and I were very, 
very good friends. She lived in a very conventional household. 
Her mother was an interior decorator, everything in place, you 
know. A surprising friendship. I was brought up in sort of 
ragamuffiny way. Not quite --that's a bit of an exaggeration. 

Riess: So when you and your husband came back- -I'm not really skipping 
forward, I'm just following throughwhen you came back to 
Berkeley, it wasn't as if you were coming back to a place that 
was really home. 

Caldwell: Oh, I was terribly depressed when we came back here to live, 
after I was married, from the point of view of being in 
Berkeley. Everywhere I looked, there were memories that made me 
very sad. It took a long time before I developed this 
passionate love of Berkeley which I have had for many years. 


I really felt I couldn't bear to live here in Berkeley at 
first. But I got a job fairly soon, and that took me to San 
Francisco. And I had my own life there. Then as my husband got 
involved, and as we developed so many friendships in Berkeley, 
Berkeley had an entirely new association. 

Berkeley Fire. 1923 

Riess: What are your memories of the Berkeley fire in 1923? 

Caldwell: Well, they're very, very vivid. The fire was very similar, in 
its rapid advance and the velocity of the wind, to the recent 
fire that took so many houses and lives. This fire came with 
the same suddenness, and had also not been controlled when it 
could have been in the beginning. It had been burning for two 
days in Contra Costa County, and when the Berkeley Fire 
Department was alerted of this, they said, "But that's not in 
Alameda County." 

It came sweeping down, up over the top of Buena Vista, and 
the smoke was so intense that you couldn't see the flames, it 
was so close to the house. My father, as a clergyman, as he 
should have done, was helping people, instead of getting the 
treasures out of his house. 

Riess: Where were you? 

Caldwell: Strange--. I was dumping some cleaning fluid down the sink, 

because of the fire, and all of the sudden we realized that the 
fire was there. Cars were burning in the street, so I grabbed 
up my dog, a set of Shakespeare, and a Chinese rug, and we 
rushed out and got in a car just in time. It was a three-story 
house, and it was destroyed like tossing a carton into a 
bonfire. The whole thing just went- -you saw it on television in 
a recent fire [October 1991] --it just went like that. 

We got away. So then, my mother's car was downtown in a 
garage, out of the fire area. 

Riess: She kept her car over here? 

Caldwell: No. I sometimes drove it over. I had learned to drive in San 
Francisco, and frequently acted as chauffeur for Mother and 
Pops. On this fateful day of the Berkeley fire I had parked my 
mother's car in a downtown garage. I can't remember why. 


But as I was leaving, a Catholic priest came along, and I 
flagged him down. He took my Chinese rug and Shakespeare. I 
kept my dog, you see. 

One of the things that did surprise me at the time , and in 
recollection, was the number of people who came just out of 
curiosity, and didn't offer to help, and we could have used 
every car that came by to help us. People did not do that very 
much. Some college students who knew where their professors 
lived saved their houses by getting out with hoses and so on 
before the water gave out. But for the most part, no. And 
practically all the roofs were made of wood at that time, and 
all curled up in this north wind. 

Anyway, we got away, and I said to my father, "I'll just go 
over to San Francisco." 

I didn't know that my face was all covered with soot, and 
my hair probably. And as we rushed out of the house I had left 
my purse behind, and my money. I thought I needed some more 
gas, and not realizing that we were now a disaster area- -you 
know, you're just so focused on what's immediately before you in 
a disaster of that kind- -I went to a gasoline station and I 
said, "I'm terribly sorry, but I left my purse in the house and 
it was just burned up. Would you trust me for five gallons?" 

"Oh, lady, we'll fill your tank!" 

I thought, that's kind of surprising. Then I got down to 
the ferry, auto ferry, same appeal. "Would you trust me?" 

"Oh, come right on!" 

I got on the ferry boat, and looked back, and here was this 
enormous area still burning, still smoking. And all these 
chimneys. I have pictures of the ruins. I realized why people 
were so kind. 

Then I got up to Russian Hill and Pops- -I burst into tears. 
I said, "Oh, Pops, our house has all burned." 

"It has, Kay darling? Well!" 

So Pops did what he always did for comfort. The cook 
wasn't in that evening, and he went out and put olive oil on a 
chicken he took out of the refrigerator, and put it in the oven. 
The answer to anguish was a good meal. [laughs] 


He had been working at his desk in his study, which was on 
the west side of the house, in other words, not facing towards 
the East Bay. He had no idea that Berkeley was a disaster area. 
And anyway, when he was absorbed in his work nothing existed but 
the focus. I've never seen anybody concentrate the way he could 
concentrate. Except my husband later when he was writing, the 
same kind of complete absorption. 

Riess: But these stories--. You've been through too much, I think. 

Caldwell: When I went to live with my mother and stepfather after the 

Berkeley fire of '23, when my father's house burned down, I just 
was enough of an adolescent to assert myself. My father said, 
"Well, there are nice, kind people in Berkeley that will put us 
up," and I said, "Dad, I'm going over to San Francisco." And I 
said it with enough assurance that he didn't question it. 

Riess: Did you go over because you felt needed, or what? 
Caldwell: Well, that was my other home. 

Riess: What was the reason you made that decision rather than deciding 
to say with your father? 

Caldwell: With my father? Well, he had no home. I wouldn't be staying 
with him really. 

I really wanted to go very much, but I also had a loyalty 
both ways. I felt it just sort of was the right thing to do. 
It seemed normal, because after all, it was my other home, and I 
was very happy there . 

Riess: You still had another year of school back here? 
Caldwell: No, I had finished high school that June. 

College Thoughts 

Riess: When did your father and Pops and Sara talk to you about 
college, and where you should go? 

Caldwell: In those days you could not go to an Eastern college if you 

graduated from any California high school; you were not prepared 
for college board exams. There was a group of businessmen in 
San Francisco who didn't know this, and they had a scholarship 


fund for Yale for any California boy, but none could qualify! 
So there was no use my trying for an Eastern college. 

When the European trip came up that absolutely postponed 
any thought of college. I had thought, once having decided to 
go to Europe , and with Mother and Pops having planned to stay 
there indefinitely- -they planned to become permanent 
expatriates --that I would go to college in Europe. Very, very 
unreal is tically thought of the Sorbonne . Of course, I didn't 
know French well enough to do that. But 1 had this romantic 
idea of college in Europe. 

Veil, then my stepfather had a frightful experience. The 
government challenged a huge law fee he'd had representing many 
years of legal work. They wanted to count it as one year's 
taxable income. It was a million dollars, so to tax it as a 
year's earnings would have ruined him. That was the money he 
was going to retire on, you see, so he had to come back to fight 
that case, and he fought it himself right up to the Supreme 
Court, and won. Else, heaven knows what they would have done, 
financially, had he not won. 

But the assumption had been that I would go somewhere in 
Europe to college. Ve never talked it over, but that was part 
of the idea. I don't think I'd ever have gotten into the 
Sorbonne . 

People: Genevieve Taggard. Hedwiea Reicher. Ed Grabhom 

Riess: Today you were going to talk about the amazing crowd of people 
that swarmed through life with Sara and the Colonel on Russian 

Caldwell: Yes, they were remarkable. Genevieve Taggard was very important 
to me- -and I've discovered subsequently that almost every 
adolescent girl needs someone that's not a family member to talk 
about sex with, and things that she couldn't possibly talk to 
her mother about. I have myself been in later years in that 
position with one particular young woman here in Berkeley. 

Riess: Genevieve Taggard was a neighbor in the city? 

Caldwell: She was a neighbor, and she and Mother were very close. Her 
husband, who had a terrible nervous breakdown, her first 
husband- -not Kenneth Durant, but the first husband, Bob 
somebody -or -other whose last name I've forgotten- -were very good 


to me. Almost all Mother's friends treated me pretty much as an 
adult, but Genevieve treated me on two levels, but fused 
together. I was aware she was an adult, but she listened, and 
she cared. I just adored her. 

Riess: Did you really talk about sex? 

Caldwell: Somewhat. Not too much, but a little bit. She was so frank 

about her own life, you see. And this was interesting to me, of 
course. Bob Wolfe, that was his name. He had a terrible 
nervous breakdown. But Genevieve, I never felt any even 
unconscious condescension because of the difference of our ages. 
She treated me as if we were almost the same age. It was a 
wonderful friendship. 

Then there was Hedwiga Reicher. She was German. And she 
came to San Francisco. I don't know how she happened to come. 
But Maurice Browne was another very famous person that came from 
England to the house, who was trying to establish a little 
theater in San Francisco. And Pops and Mother, being hospitable 
and welcoming, and always wanting to help people, helped raise 
money for that. Now, whether she [Hedwiga Reicher] came on that 
account, 1 don't know. I just know she was enormously 
impressive as an actress. 

The house in San Francisco--. Bingham, who is the 
biographer of Colonel Wood, doesn't know anything about that 
life in San Francisco, and had a wrong date there which I helped 
him out on. Anyway, there was a step between the living room 
and the dining room that made a kind of stage, and Hedwiga 
Reicher would get up there and recite ballads. 

One night about midnight she was yelling, "I have killed my 
father, mother--" this is an English poem, and the poor servant 
in the house came rushing out, he thought some terrible thing 
was happening, [laughing] I've never forgotten that in 
connection with Hedwiga Reicher. 

Riess: And who might have been there on a typical night? 

Caldwell: Oh, there was no typical night. Oh, no. There were people 

there all the time. Mother and Pops moved, you know, away from 
San Francisco for two reasons: one, that my stepfather didn't 
like the late afternoon wind on account of his sinus trouble, 
and two, that they had guests at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 
They never had any time to themselves. They were so adored and 

Riess: These would be out-of-town people? 



Oh, people from New York, from Europe, all over, 

And then, 

Pops was very, very much interested in the nan who became 
internationally famous as a printer, Edwin Grabhorn. Grabhorn 
originally, with all his talent, nevertheless had to earn his 
living by doing advertising scripts and visual presentations. 
Pops helped to finance him so that he didn't have to do that and 
could start his own wonderful press. I just loved Ed. 

Later on, after Mother and Pops lived in Los Gatos, they'd 
come up to San Francisco and stay in some dumpy hotel- -Pops, who 
was so generous, hated to spend money on hotels. He would then 
wander the streets- -Pops would- -going from place to place, and 
he always went to see Ed Grabhorn. 

When I went to college I took a course and read the whole 
of The Divine Comedy of Dante. And one day I went to see Ed. 
"Jesus, Kay" --he always said Jesus something-or-other- -"I 
understand you know how to read Italian." He pretended to talk 
like the common man. He was not formally educated, but he was 
wonderfully read, extremely sophisticated. But he gave the 
impression of just being one of the common people. 

"Jesus, Kay, you can read Dante? I've got a wonderful 
edition of Dante somewhere here." And he went to a drawer full 
of miscellaneous papers and dragged out this beautiful vellum 
copy, three volumes - - Inferno . Purgatorio. and Paradisic- -and he 
wanted to give them to me . 

Well, I knew they were worth thousands of dollars. And 
when he picked up a pen and started to inscribe it to me, I 
grabbed the pen out of his hand. I said, "Ed, you must not give 
these to me! These are very valuable." 

"Jesus, Kay, I can't read this language! You can read it." 
And he took the pen and he inscribed these beautiful books to 

Riess : And you have them? 

Caldwell: I did have them. Eventually I sold them, and I'm sorry now that 
I did. 

Riess: What was the edition? 

Caldwell: Ashendene Press, very, very beautiful. I had them at Harvard 
when I was there, and the man who taught the course in fine 

printing borrowed them and had them in the Wagner Library on 
display at one time. 

But anyway, that was a warm friendship I made. I just 
loved Ed. He had a great gift for friendship, and he liked 
young people very much. I remember in London one time there was 
an international exhibition of fine printing, and for the most 
part each printer had one volume on display, but for Ed there 
was an entire case. In London! He was marvelous, and utterly 
unassuming. I met fine people through him, too. 

People: Powvs Brothers. Nellie and Maurice Browne. Lincoln 

Cal dwell: Another person that used to come and stay at the house was John 
Cowper Powys. I can't remember what Mother says about Powys , 
but my brother and I--I'm just trying to think. My brother 
never was alive to have known anything about the Broadway house, 
but Mother must have known him [Powys] earlier on, because my 
brother and I had not heard a British accent before, and we kept 
our faces straight and were very polite, and then we'd go in the 
kitchen and just roar with laughter and imitate. 

Powys refused to use a linen napkin, and Mother had to buy 
silk handkerchiefs. He also refused to put his letters in just 
any mailbox. I don't know what his basis of choice was, but he 
would go and find a box, and he would put in his letter--! can 
see him do this- -shake the box and be sure that that letter 
dropped down. He was very eccentric. 

His brother Llewelyn also stayed. Llewelyn I was aware of 
as a man, because he was a kind of --what shall I say- -he looked 
on all women with a calculating eye. [laughs] 

There were a number of famous writers whose names 1 can't 
remember from New York. My grandmother, my mother's mother, 
used to come to visit, and there was one famous writer, Edgar 
Lee Masters- -I'm pretty sure my mother tells the story- -who 
denounced Christ at the dinner. And my grandmother! I remember 
that incident, I was there at that time. 

Also I remember once when we were celebrating my 
stepfather's birthday, and everybody was proposing toasts, I got 
up and said, "Here's to Pops, almost everybody loves you," 
meaning my father didn't, you see. And I couldn't understand 
why everybody burst into roars of laughter, [laughter] I was 


dismayed to think that I had made any kind of mistake. It was 
my honesty. I had to lie all the time, and obviously my father 
hated Pops, so by saying "almost everybody loves you" I thought 
I was being faithful to the truth. 

There was Nellie Browne. Now, she was a wonderful person, 
the wife of Maurice, but he was having an affair with someone 
else. I guess my dislike of men in some ways- -I mean not that I 
dislike men in general, but I felt suspicious of themwas 
because I just loved Nellie, and I knew that her heart was 
breaking because of her husband's affair with a younger woman. 

Riess: Who were Nellie and Maurice Browne? 

Caldwell: Maurice Browne was the famous producer, the one I mentioned a 
few minutes ago, who came to San Francisco with the idea of 
establishing a little theater there. And there was a great 
to-do about this, and great attempts to raise funds for this. 

Riess: The Colonel was financing it? 

Caldwell: Yes. And you see, the thing of it is, whenever anybody came 
with a problem of a cultural sort, you see, like Grabhorn, 
Maurice Browne, and so on, Mother and Pops always were willing 
to try to help them. 

Riess: Financially? 

Caldwell: Yes. Pops really put Grabhorn on his feet, you see, in the 

beginning. I don't ever know what came of the fundraising for 
the little theater. I know it did not become a reality. But 
that's why the Browns from London were there in San Francisco. 

Riess: Did your parents have any really radical or Communist friends? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, indeed they did. Yes, they did. And for a long time 
were very much interested in the Russian- -what they would call 
experiment in social justice. And they were completely 
disillusioned when they found that there was no such thing as a 
fair trial, and that just finished Communism for them. But yes, 
and my Aunt Mary was very, very radical, and she lived nearby on 
Russian Hill. 

Riess: Now, these other names: Lincoln Steffens. 

Caldwell: I was very fond of Lincoln Steffens, very, very fond. I have a 
letter of his to me. I was always uncomfortable with him in the 
sense he was so witty. A lot of people felt that way. He 
always had this marvelous reply, you know, just for publication 


almost. I was very fond of him, but I did feel intellectually 
BO inferior that I felt a little uncomfortable, too. We met 
them in Italy, Steffens and his wife- -though not his wife at 
that time- -and I thought he was just absolutely a delightful 
person, full of humor, too. 

Riess: When you looked around at these people, made these 

acquaintances, did it begin to shape some sense of what you'd 
like to do in your life? 

Caldwell: They didn't shape it at all, no. I wanted to have a profession, 
but I wasn't influenced by these people. Actually, 1 always 
felt- -not exactly inferior, but I never thought of having a life 
of any distinction in a profession. 

Riess: When you talk about a sharp retort and great wit and everything, 
would that describe your mother too? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, and it was always a joke at the table. They had a 

live -in servant, a Chinese named Ming. He would bring in a dish 
to her which she would serve at the table then, and she would 
get so involved in talking that the spoon would be dripping over 
the casserole, but she'd forget to put it on the plate. 
Everybody was waiting for their dinner, and Pops used to say, 
"Now, Sara, we're all hungry," or something like that. She was 
so involved in ideas . 

She really loved people and she loved discussion. That 
meant more to her than anything else. That impressed me very 
much. Yet with so many people coming and going it was very hard 
for me to have any time with her. That was the only time I had 
to see her, and oftentimes I'd feel- -I don't remember feeling 
angry, but I used to think, "Oh, if only we could have a little 
time alone." And then oftentimes she was gone on weekends. 

Sexual Awareness 

Caldwell: If I had been the free-living kind of young person that lives 
today, I could have had a fine time inviting people in to live 
with me there, but I was a very conscientious, straight- laced 
young woman. Really I think afraid of any kind of sexual 
experiment anyway. 

I remember bringing over a quite sophisticated, very well 
educated young friend from Berkeley, whose name I don't 
remember, and feeling very, very happy to be able to share this 


beautiful house with her. We would go to the French theater. 
But you see how serious I was. Life was serious, life was 
earnest, you know. [laughs] 

The involvement of my parents in so many political and 
cultural activities was a pattern. The trivial, kicking-up- 
your-heels, having fun life was just not part of it at all, and 
that's too bad, in a way. I had no sense ever of play. 

Riess: I imagine you must have been very beautiful. 

Caldwell: I was a pretty girl. I don't know whether I was beautiful or 

not, but I was pretty, and 1 remember being surprised at people 
remarking on it. Or with Llewelyn Powys , I remember I was very 
much aware of his looking at me in a sexual way, and being 
embarrassed by it. 

Riess: And you never--? 

Caldwell: No, I never had any affairs with any of them. 

Riess: [laughs] I wasn't going to ask that, but thank you. You never 
had any affairs? 

Caldwell: No, I really didn't. I was Just a really old-fashioned girl. 
Riess: And yet was it not a free-living period? 

Caldwell: Veil, it was. I don't know why I was so straight -laced and 

I remember when we were abroad and living in Sorrento, and 
I went for the day to the island of Capri with a bunch of young 
American art students who were "doing" the European trip. We 
got marooned there because of a storm. I had a whole lot of- -I 
was always so careful about any security, and I had a whole lot 
of travelers checks and temporarily financed everybody. 

I went off on a walk with one of these young men, and we 
sat in a cave because of the storm, looking out on the Bay of 
Naples. And I remember thinking he was quite attractive. Then 
he told me about his girlfriend at home, and I thought, "Oh, 1 
mustn't be interested in this young man at all. He's got a 
girlfriend at home." I was very, very moral and straight- laced 
about sexual things. No possibility of having a relationship 
with this man, when he's got a girl at home. I had, very, very 
strong moral code. 


Did people talk about religion and morality? 


Caldwell: Well, it's a strange thing considering my father's fixation on 
it really, but probably because of my mother's having left my 
father, largely because she couldn't accept his fundamentalist 
beliefs, 1 sided with her, you see, on that. 1 took her stance 
on religion unconsciously- -not with any conscious decision. But 
on the other hand, I didn't want to offend my father. 

People: Tony Luhan. Ansel Adams. Ralph Stacknole 

Riess: Do you remember Tony Luhan? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, I remember Tony the Indian. Yes, he came, and you 
know, he was illiterate. My mother with her wonderfully. 
wonderfully cordial way, was trying to make conversation with 
him. She usually could get people to talk. She couldn't get 
anything out of him, so finally she said, "Would you like some 
coffee?" [speaking slowly and deliberately] "1 like coffee," 
he said. I heard him say this, "I like coffee." And that's all 
the conversation she could get out of him. 

Riess: 1 hadn't realized he was illiterate. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. A complete lack oflike Lady Chatterly's lover. 

Riess: Was he devastatingly attractive? 

Caldwell: I didn't think so. [laughs] I thought, how could anybody want 
to have anything to do with him? I thought he was a lump. 

Riess: That's funny. Ansel Adams? 

Caldwell: Oh, Ansel Adams, I just loved Ansel Adams. Ansel was a great 

influence in my life, in terms of photography. Much later I had 
contacts with him and made a friendship, when I was in art 
history and going abroad. 

Riess: You were going to tell me a story about Ansel Adams. 

Caldwell: Yes. 1 had been studying about Asia and Asian art for a long 
time, but I never had been there, and finally, in 1958, I went 
abroad, by myself, for two months. I sat next to Ansel Adams at 
a dinner party before I left and told him 1 was going to India 
and Hong Kong and so on. And he said, "What kind of camera are 
you going to take?" "Oh," I said, "Ansel, I'm not taking a 
camera. I have no mechanical aptitudes." 


"Kay, you're going to go to all these remote places" 
--remember, at that time people hadn't traveled everywhere the 
way they do now- -"and not take a camera?" Two days later 1 got 
a letter from Ansel on legal-sized paper listing the make of a 
camera and all its parts, and after each part it said, "Requires 
no mechanical aptitude." He then called me up, and he made an 
appointment, and he took me to a camera store and saw to it that 
I took a camera, and showed me one that wouldn't require any 
mechanical aptitude . 

I was very indebted to him. 1 gave all my slides to Mills 
College. But otherwise, without that encouragement, I never in 
the world would have undertaken photography. You see, cameras 
are made today so that you don't need to know anything about 
photography, focusing or anything else. But that wasn't true at 
that time. 

Riess: How had you known Ansel Adams? 
Caldwell: Mother and Pops. 

You know that he did my wedding pictures? How they knew 
him I don't know. But Mother and Pops always enjoyed music, and 
Ansel at that time was not into photography, he was a musician. 
He was a pianist. Somehow or other they knew him, probably 
through Cedric Wright, who was a violinist and a photographer. 
However they got into that circle I don't know. But they were 
very, very good friends. 

Ansel was not a photographer then in the sense that anybody 
ever heard of him, or even thought he was doing photography- -as 
anyone might do now. But Mother and Pops made arrangements--! 
didn't know Ansel then at all, except to see him here and there, 
but not on a personal basis like the incident I just 
described- -and Ansel made the photographs. As a matter of fact, 
I have been trying to decide whether to give them to the 
University of California, or what to do with them. Mills 
College wants them very, very much. 

They are not good pictures from the point of view of --they 
are beautiful technically, but from the point of view of 
grouping they are really a disaster. Ansel said so himself. He 
said, "You know, I just can't photograph people." I wouldn't 
make that statement about him, but he acknowledged the fact that 
he didn't photograph people well at all. [Riess and Caldwell 
look at photographs] 

Riess: How about Ralph Stackpole? 


Caldwell: Oh, I'm glad you mentioned him. Yes, he did my bust when I was 
fourteen. My mother commissioned that. 

Riess : Did you go to his studio? 

Caldwell: Yes. The thing of it was, the situation is so threatening 

today, wandering the streets alone, you know, but that wasn't 
true then. I oftentimes walked from the Ferry Building--! think 
I mentioned that beforeup to Russian Hill rather than taking 
the cable car. 

When I was sitting for the bust Stackpole did of me I 
simply walked from the Ferry Building to Montgomery Street, that 
area. They have since destroyed the building [Montgomery Block 
Building] for the Transamerica Building. But that whole 
artists' area, I would go there. 

At first I thought he loved poetry, and I recited Matthew 
Arnold's "Dover Beach," but he only wanted me to stay still, you 
see? And I realized the joke was on me! I thought he was just 
loving to hear Arnold, and Shelley and Keats, only to realize he 
was not listening at all, but just making his sketches. 

I simply adored him, he was such an attractive, 
companionable man, but again, not in any- -just as a friend. He 
had the most delightful wife, an uneducated French woman who 
learned English by reading comic strips, colloquial English. 
She was lovely. Eventually they went to live in France 
permanently, because of her. But I thought he was marvelous, 

People: Helen and Anslev Salz. the Menuhins. and Others From the 
World of Music 

Riess: Helen Salz, whom I interviewed, corresponded with him. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. You interviewed Helen? I just to this day have such a 
love and respect for Helen Salz. 

Riess : When did you know her? 

Caldwell: Always knew her, because my mother- -they were such long, such 

close friends. I used to go see Helen in her old age; I used to 
go see her regularly, every few weeks, because I liked her so 
much, and I admired her painting. Our friendship grew in depth 


because I always "reviewed" her paintings when they were on 
exhibition. She knew that I admired her work. 

Ansley Salz left us $1,000 in his will, to our amazement, 
with which we bought that piano [Bosendorfer] over there. We 
couldn't believe it. He was very fond of us- -he admired Jim-- 
and he was so wealthy, and I guess he thought, "Those poor 
struggling people in the academic world are always underpaid," 
or something like that. 

Riess: And you found a Bosendorfer? 

Caldwell : Yes, through a Chronicle ad. Ve knew what a fine piano it was 
because of our friendship with Adolph Bailer, who was 
accompanist for Yehudi Menuhin, and who sponsored the 
B6sendorfer in the San Francisco area. 

That piano was greatly admired by Lili Kraus . She was the 
friend of mutual friends of ours- -I think the Slosses of Santa 
Barbara. They brought Lili Kraus to our house and she "tried 
out" the piano and loved it and offered to give a concert! Two 
other great musical friends, Albert Elkus and Roy Bogas , both 
expressed how much they approved the purchase! [laughs] 

Riess: Were there any other concerts performed? 

Caldwell: Not by anyone in the Lili Kraus ballpark, but Abramowitsch liked 
to play Schubert on it. 

Riess: Well, that's a fine story, and a generous gesture from Ansley 

Caldwell: We saw a lot of the Salzes when we came here to live. They were 
very, very influential in our lives. Helen was on the 
[American] Civil Liberties Union board, and my husband was too. 
But we're skipping in time now. It was later in our own 
well-established adult life that we knew the Salzes and that 1 
knew Ansley. It wasn't part of my girlhood. 

Riess: What can you tell me about your mother and Colonel Wood's 
relationship with the music world? 

Caldwell: They just loved music. Technically they had no knowledge of it, 
but they were great appreciators. Maybe because of the 
proximity of Yehudi Menuhin, who brought so many musicians into 
their lives; they met musicians they wouldn't otherwise have met 
without that personal contact with Menuhin as a neighbor. 



Cal dwell : 


I can remember how much Pops enjoyed the Beethoven 
Quartets, without any knowledge whatsoever of music, and as he 
used to say himself, unable to carry a tune. He had what we 
called his kitchen song, when he was making beaten biscuits --the 
only thing he ever cooked, and he used to love to make punches, 
wine punches- -he would sing, "Hmm, humm, hmm, humm." That was 
his musical expression, and only when he was in the kitchen 
making these biscuits, and covering himself and the floor with 
flour . 

The beaten biscuits was something he learned to make 1 
think when he was in the army, and stranded somewhere on a 
marchI'm just hazarding that this is itwhere there was 
nothing but flour and water available . 

No rising ingredient? 

Caldwell: No rising ingredient at all, they were hard as the table! 
Riess: Did they have chamber music? 

I don't remember a full trio or quartet. They were invited over 
to the Menuhins for concerts. And I remember Yehudi kind of 
laughingly picking up a musical instrument and playing. It 
seems to me that when it came to music in their own home it was 
confined to the piano. But since Menuhin introduced them to so 
many instrumentalists, stringed instruments, they were invited 
to concerts. 

I remember that Abramowitsch, who became a very famous 
musician in our community, used to play at the house. He was 
brought there by the Erskines. Dorothy and Morse Erskine 
befriended the Abramowitsches [Bernard and Eva] when they first 
came to America with the influx of Jews under the Hitler purge. 
They brought Abramowitsch down to The Cats and I remember his 
playing then. They had a very nice piano there, a good 
Steinway. That piano was moved from San Francisco. 

Amusingly enough, early on I remember Ansel Adams. He used 
to come and play, and I remember how impressed I was with the 
quality of his music. You know, before he was a photographer he 
was a pianist. 

In your life music has been important too. 

My passionate love of music was definitely a development of my 
maturity. That is to say, when I was a little girl I liked 
music, but I had no exposure to the great musical masters, to 
speak of, not much. I remember once my father, who came from a 


very musical family, took me over to San Francisco when I was a 
little girl, and I heard Madame Schumann -He ink sing outdoors. 
My father, perhaps because his funds were so limited, we didn't 
go to concerts very much. I can't remember going with him at 
all to concerts, and he just loved music. 

I remember first going to concerts actually at the 
University of Wisconsin, and that was with the man that was to 
become my husband. He was very fond of music, too. And then, 
of course, when I went to Radcliffe, everybody went to the 
Boston Symphony on Saturday night. That was your night out. 
I'm sure now the social life is more active, but when I was 
there it was almost assumed that you only went out on a Saturday 
night. And good Harvard and Radcliffe people went to the Boston 
Symphony. I discovered symphony music when I was in college, 
and then 1 became an absolute addict. 

Riess: And Mills was a center for contemporary music. 

Caldwell: I wasn't involved with music at Mills. I knew Madame Milhaud 
very well. She used to audit my classes, actually. But I was 
in awe of her husband. I discovered later that the reason it 
was so difficult to communicate with him was on account of his 
deafness. You thought that he disapproved of something you said 
because he looked rather stern. That wasn't it at all; he 
hadn't heard a word. [laughs] 

Riess: And the Berkeley Piano Club? 

Caldwell: That was very recent. I have only belonged to the Piano Club 
for eight or ten years. 1 don't know when it was established, 
but there are so many people with musical talent in this area 
that there was no problem in finding membership on the 
professional level. Two-thirds of the members are 
professionals, and one- third are appreciators. Margaret Rowell 
was responsible for nominating me for membership. 

1 remember, when they acknowledged the new members, my 
telling this rather amusing story about the Menuhins. Someone 
visited them, and Yehudi and Hepzibah played the violin and 
piano. Yaltah, the youngest Menuhin child [born 1922], was 
about six or seven, and somebody said, "Yaltah, what do you do? 
And she said, 'I think.'" And 1 said that my relationship to 
the Piano Club, since I didn't perform, was that 1 thought, 

I audited a number of courses by Albert Elkus, at the 
University, on the appreciation of music. And another thing, 
because of our meeting so many musicians at Yehudi Menuhin' s, 


the Alma Trio- -piano, violin, and cellowhich was established 
there, when they gave their concerts in Berkeley they would come 
here to stay and to tune up and we would give them food. So the 
contacts were made at Los Gatos when the musicians we met there 
came to Berkeley to play. 

The Alma Trio started at Yehudi Menuhin's [in 1944 at the 
Alma estate, Los Gatos], and then it became a trio that traveled 
all over the United States, and concertized everywhere. Gabor 
Rejto, the cellist, was from Czechoslovakia, and of course 
[Adolph] Bailer, who was the pianist, was German. And Andor 
Toth, the violinist. They were all refugees, really, from 

People : Beniamino Buf ano 

Riess: I would be interested in your first impressions of Beniamino 
Bufano. Your parents were apparently smitten! 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. I thought he was an infernal nuisance, and wondered 
why he hung around so much. 

Riess: For Sara and the Colonel, what was the attraction? 

Caldwell: I think they admired his work and wanted him to have 

opportunities to have commissions. They thought he was very 

Riess: He decided that he would marry you, according to the book One of 
Benny's Faces: [A Study of Beniamino Bufano f 1886 -19701 by 
Virginia B. Lewin, Exposition Press, 1980.] 

Caldwell: I think that was purely opportunistic, he wanted a free lunch. 

I think he simply thought if he could marry me then his economic 
future was secure. But I must say that I hadn't the faintest 
idea that he had any interest in me. Personally. Not any. 1 
was astonished in the statement that he had any interest in me 
in a personal way. 

Riess: Were your parents the patrons of any other artists, in the way 
they took on Bufano? 

Caldwell: They patronized Stackpole, and they patronized Ray Boynton. But 
they were established artists, so in a sense they weren't 
helping them to develop a clientele as they were helping Bufano 
to develop his contacts. Pops belief always was- -he said it 


over and over- -that he believed in patronizing the work of local 
and living artists. So in the case of Bufano it was helping 
somebody to become established. 

Riess: Did Pops have connections to the San Francisco Art Institute? 

Caldwell: No, not to my knowledge. He probably knew people connected to 
it, but he wasn't on the board or any of that, he wasn't an 
official ever. Somehow or other, established organizations that 
had to do with creative art, he didn't seem to be involved with 
those. He knew artists personally; these are all very personal 
contacts, not official. 

Riess : Was Bufano a kind of lame duck? 

Caldwell: No, it was more that his work wasn't known and they wanted to 
publicize it and find him contacts. I don't think there was a 
pitying attitude, or condescending in any way. I think they 
felt he had talent and they wanted to give him full expression 
of it. 

You probably know that Bufano was befriended by many other 
people beside Colonel Wood. Leon Liebes , for example, and 
Albert Bender. And he turned against them all in a most 
despicable way. It wasn't just Colonel Wood who was sued, but 
all of his benefactors had problems with him, his ingratitude 
and false accusations and so on. 

The Home on Russian Hill 




Russian Hill, more details, 
always yours? 

Did you have a bedroom that was 

Yes. I had a bedroom that was perfectly charming, and they put 
a beautiful little French motif wallpaper on it for me. It had 
a balcony on it looking off to the east. And then Mother and 
Pops had a large room. That picture over there --there was a 
fireplace in their room, and that picture was over it. They had 
a lovely large room. 

That picture being? 

That's a Twachtman. Yes, that's the most valuable thing I own. 
There were two fireplaces in the house, and this painting was 
over the fireplace up in their bedroom. Downstairs was a 
beautiful large living room, and over the fireplace was Albert 


Pinkham Ryder's "Tempest," now in the Detroit Museum. And there 
were lots of Hassams in the house, and beautiful Chinese rugs. 

Pops just loved every kind of art medium, whether it was 
Greek coins or textiles or Impressionist paintings. 

Riess: It sounds like he liked luxury. 

Caldwell: I never thought of it that way. I'd say rather quality, except 
for those inferior hotels they stayed in! He loved good food, 
and he loved quality. He didn't like luxury in the sense of 
just spending money on fashionable places to dine, but he 
enjoyed good food and we used to go to Coppa's Restaurant a 
great deal in San Francisco, off of California Street. Coppa's 
was extremely sympathetic to the economic plight of artists. He 
would give them food in exchange for paintings, which lined the 
walls of the restaurant. 

Riess: That's the old Bohemian San Francisco, isn't it? 

Caldwell: That's right. And as I say, we used to go there to lunch very 
often, and Pops was very fond of it. Quality is the thing. He 
couldn't bear to ever be given any oil that wasn't olive oil. 
But one day we went in there , and they gave him a salad with 
Vesson oil. He was outraged. He put down his fork, he pushed 
back his chair, and he threw down his napkin and walked out, 
because he'd been given salad that didn't have olive oil. 

Riess: That's dramatic, isn't it? 

Caldwell: He rarely showed any temper, but the idea that in an old 

restaurant where he was a habitue that anybody would insult him 
like that! I was just aghast. 

Riess: When you talked about ambivalence about all the people who were 
around Sara and the Colonel, did Sara want to get away? 

Caldwell: Oh, they loved people; they could never become hermits, ever. 
They were much sought after, and they entertained beautifully, 
and with warmth, and with an enormously exciting kind of a- -both 
an intimacy and on the larger scale of dinner parties. 

Riess: Your mother and the Colonel were such passionate people, as 
expressed in their letters. 

Caldwell: Yes, they were, my mother particularly, that's true. She felt 
everything very, very deeply. I've been so interested in 
reading a lot of letters in connections with social problems, 
and they are always passionate about whatever the issue may be. 


Riess: Is her "voice," as it were, in the letters, the sane as it was 
in reality? 

Caldwell: Yes- -very definitely. She was very emotional, but she was also 
a very intellectual person. I know there was some writer who 
criticized her emotionality, but 1 think that was unfair because 
she had an interesting combination of emotion and intellect. I 
think she had an ability to think out her reasons very clearly 
for espousing a cause. It wasn't Just a gut-level thing at all. 

Los Gatos . and the Mareneos 

Caldwell: They did want to do their writing, that's why they said they 

wanted to leave the city. And when they went to Los Gatos, they 
put on their stationery, "Visits by appointment only." But 
then, of course, what happened was that the people who were 
callous and unthoughtful would pay no attention and drop in, and 
for this reason they built the little studio, which was about an 
eighth of a mile distant from the house, up the hill. Then the 
housekeeper could honestly say, "No, they're not at home." That 
was the reason, they said, that they built it. 

They would go up- -I think I mentioned this before- -with a 
basket of fruit, and French bread and Monterey jack cheese, and 
some wine, and they'd go to their separate rooms in the studio, 
and then would meet for lunch. 

You know, thinking back on those twenty or so years at Los 
Gatos, what an ideal life it was! I never thought of it as 
luxurious. I never thought of my stepfather as a wealthy man, 
or that this was a luxurious life. I thought, "Well, they live 
this way, but other people have other styles." I didn't think 
of it as unusual until I was much, much older. 

Riess: Vere the Marengos always part of the Los Gatos life? 

Caldwell: Yes. Vincent came to the United States as a very young man, 

adolescent, a poor immigrant from Italy. And so was Mary. He 
got employment at the novitiate, the Catholic establishment 
across the way from Mother and Pops' place, picking grapes and 
learning how to make wine . 

He never was given any education [by the novitiate], and it 
was an educational institution! His bitterness against the 
Catholic church cannot be exaggerated, because they didn't 
educate him. A highly intelligent man. 


When the Second World War came, and wages went up- -of 
course, they were working on a very small salary, pre-war wages, 
for Mother and Pops, who later financed a lovely house for them 
when they retired- -the bitterness was increased about his 

Riess : And he was with your family how long? 
Caldwell: Thirty years. 

How they first met I'm not sure, but Mother and Pops needed 
help on the place, and I think he came first just by the day, or 
something like that. I'm just hazarding this as what happened. 
And then he was offered that full-time job. 

He was not married to Mary then; she was married to another 
man, who treated her outrageously, and by whom she'd had her 
children. She finally got a divorce, and I think Pops helped 
her on that. She was very frightened of this other man, very 
timid. Vincent loved her very much, and they were married, and 
then they came to live in the house which Mother and Pops had 
built a short distance from their own house. They were just the 
most marvelous people. 

People: Noel Sullivan 

Riess: Tell me about Noel Sullivan. You knew him? 

Caldwell: I knew him and loved him very, very much. He was one of the 

most impressive human beings I've ever known. He was a man who 
was born to great wealth. I knew a lot of wealthy people 
through Mother and Pops, but I'd never known a man who accepted 
it as a way of life, that is to say, not having to prove himself 
in a profession or a business. He spent his life in music. Of 
course, he had a very good voice, beautiful bass voice. He 
would entertain his friends . 

He was not sufficiently gifted musically to be in the big 
time, but he spent his life devoted to helping other people, 
particularly blacks. He was extremely fond of black people. 
Marian Anderson, he helped in her education, and Langs ton 
Hughes, and so on- -not that Langston was a musician. For the 
most part, he identified himself with music and musicians, but 
he helped any black person of talent. 


He always lived very lavishly, and when my husband and 1 
were engaged, he gave us the most beautiful party in San 
Francisco. That was during what I call my Italian phase, and 
Noel had lived in Italy part of the time. I loved the Italian 
language and Italian people. For the party he had Italian music 
and Italian friends, Italian food, and a beautiful, beautiful 
table set with Italian dishes. 

So we were very close to him. But on the other hand, I 
hated the idea of being indebted to people who were very 
wealthy. He used to offer us tickets to the opera, and I 
declined them, because I thought we could never reciprocate. 
Later on he used to invite us down to visit him in Carmel in the 
little cottage he had there, or let us have it for ourselves. 

And finally, when my husband went on sabbatical leave, Noel 
took our dog. He was passionately fond of dogs. He had maybe 
ten dogs around. The only unaesthetic thing in Noel's life was 
the fact he'd let the dogs wander under the table while we were 
eating, and they'd drool on ladies' stockings. We couldn't 
understand how he could endure this. But anyway, you can see 
from these incidents what a dear friend he was. 

I have a beautiful picture of Noel that I keep thinking I 
should give to the Carmel Valley Manor, the retirement place. 
Noel's heir sold the estate- -farm, I should say- -he had down in 
the Carmel Valley, and it became Carmel Valley Manor. There's 
his little chapel still there that they kept. 

I associate Noel first, however, with San Francisco. Jim 
and I were living in Berkeley, and I met him in San Francisco, 
when Mother and Pops were living in San Francisco on Broadway 
and Taylor. I remember he used to come to dinner in the 
Broadway house, and of course, we all knew that he was not 
interested in women sexually, but women all fell in love with 
him. I used to dream about what a beautiful person Noel was, 
but we all knew that this was not his interest. 

Riess: I am intrigued with a statement like "we all knew." 

Caldwell: It was talked about, speculated about, whether he had any 

particular man as his interest at the time. Never quite knew 
about that. 


Poetry Talk 

Riess: In the "Afterword" you say that poetry drew you and your mother 
together, and that discussions of poetry were an accompaniment 
to nearly every meal. 

Caldwell: I think we need to edit this, because it's not quite accurate. 
My point is that she brought me up by reading poetry when I was 
very young, being reminded of a poem by a situation we were in, 
out in nature, or something of that kind. But at the meal we 
were simply- -Mother and Pops were both working on manuscripts, 
and that's what was discussed at the meal, their manuscripts. I 
think it's very important to know that. We didn't just sit down 
and read poetry at dinner. Not at all. 

Riess: How would they discuss their manuscripts at the meal? 

Caldwell: Well, one of them might have a question about phraseology, or 
length of expression or something. 

Riess: And they were each other's critics? 

Caldwell: Yes, that's right. And my mother always treated me as an adult, 
however young--! don't mean before I was a teenager, but say 
from the time of fifteen years old, she always treated me as if 
my opinion mattered. 

But no, that was the thing. They really were revising and 
editing, sort of, at the dinner table. And it happened 
frequently. I particularly remember when my mother was writing 
Barabbas . She did lots of research on that, she got lots of 
scholarly help on it. That was later, when Jim was a member of 
our family, and she had so many things she wanted to try out on 
us, you see. 

That's another thing: it was often a matter of asking one 
of the members of the family what they thought about various 
portions, whether they should be included, that kind of thing. 
I'm sure you must understand, as a literary person yourself. 

Riess: Many artists and writers labor alone. 

Caldwell: Yes, that is perfectly true. A lot of creative people feel that 
they are diluting their creative energy by discussing the work 
in progress. 

And then sometimes Pops would read us one short poem that 
he just finished, or something like that. 







And would you feel free to criticize, or say it didn't strike a 
chord with you? 

I would have been more likely to have commented if I liked it. 
Maybe not said anything if it didn't hit me. 

Always a discreet approach. 

No, I'm very outspoken. You ought to ask my doctor [laughs]. 
Very outspoken. But it was largely either I thought maybe if I 
were more acquainted with it I'd like it better after a while, 
or I didn't want to offend- -one or the other. About Barabbas . 
even to this day I do not find it as accessible, as compatible, 
as Mother's other poems. I find it labored. 

I feel so sorry, I never would have wanted her to know how 
little that poem that meant so much to her to write- -she just 
wrote it from her heart, and I never--. Jim and I--it was very 
difficult for us, because we didn't want to be negative and 
critical, but neither of us were attracted to it. 

And she didn't sense that? 

I don't think she did. She was very much absorbed in the 
construction of it and the research on it. 

And that was published in 1932. 

Pale Woman? 

It seems to me she sent me the proofs of that when I was at 
Radcliffe. I think that was then. I haven't the chronology 
very clearly in mind. 

That would make sense, 1927. 
suggest changes? 

In reading the proofs would you 

Oh, occasionally. I can't remember what they were. I might 
have, yes. Occasionally I would make suggestions. 

That was also true of Genevieve Taggard. She treated me 
always as an adult about her work, too. I appreciated that. I 
didn't think about it too much at the time; I just assumed 
that's the way it was. 


Sara and Colonel Wood as a Couple 

Riess: When you look back at Sara and Pops, do you think of them as an 
ideal couple? 

Caldwell: Yes, I do, absolutely. Unbelievable. The only time I ever 
remember Pops being angry at Mother was because she was 
sneaking- -the doctor thought she shouldn't touch coffee, with 
her colitis, and he found she was drinking some coffee. But 
that's the only time I've ever known him to explode with anger 
at her. They had their disagreements on a number of topics, and 
very, very intense discussions, but there was never any 
animosity or unresolved feelings, you know. An intense feeling 
of each one's cause, but no animosity, nothing negative left 
over from it, no residue. 

Riess: Do you think they had some particular insights? 

Caldwell: Well, of course, it's particularly surprising on the part of 
Colonel Wood, because he had had so many affairs, and so many 
fine people, and he wasn't--. I've often thought, it's 
interesting, of the men I have known well I have never known any 
that ever had anything to do with a prostitute! Their early 
sexual adventures were with people of their own class, so to 
speak. So when I say he had all these affairs, I didn't mean in 
a trivial way. 

Pops used to laugh and say as a young officer he would be 
stationed somewhere, in an officer's home, and the wife would 
sneak into his room and say, "You know, my husband never 
satisfies me. Can I get in bed with you?" That kind of thing. 
He was terribly, terribly attractive. 

But my point --and this is not as irrelevant to your 
question as you might have thought--! think that for all he had 
lots of liaisons with extremely intelligent people- -and there 
was one woman in particular in Portland, also a married woman, a 
very, very wealthy woman, with whom he used to exchange the most 
extravagant presents of beautifully-bound, leather-bound books, 
with wonderful inscriptions- -I think that Pops had never had a 
relationship with a woman that was so fulfilling in so many 
ways . I think that it was a revelation to him that he could 
have a relationship like that [which he had with my mother] . 

He was a lot older then, but he was not old in the way of 
being attracted to women and women to him, and I think it was a 
discovery of a kind of completeness of relationship he had never 
had before. And of course, for Mother, he was just everything 


to her. The result was a relationship that just seemed to be 
almost ideal. 1 loved being with them. There was a real love 
and respect and comfortable feeling between them always. 

I remember how hard it was on my mother when he was very, 
very old, and near death. We urged her to have a nurse, but she 
felt she should not delegate his care to a stranger. 1 remember 
once she was overwrought, and said she was cross, and she felt 
so sorry about it. She felt she had committed the sin of sins 
to have spoken to him sharply. He was hard to take care of, but 
I remember how awful she felt that she had ever lost her temper! 

My own father, knowing Pops had had so many affairs, felt 
my mother was just another person to be cast aside. And he 
didn't want my brother and me to be exposed to the philosophy of 
a person seemingly so casual about sexual matters. I think that 
it must have been an absolute amazement to my father that this 
relationship lasted. 

I was unfortunately abroad when my father died. His second 
wife- -I immediately went to stay with her for a few days when I 
came back. She told me that his dying words were, "Tell Sara 1 
forgive her." I think he must have realized that there was more 
to the relationship than just a casual sexual attraction. It 
was a really affinitive thing. While it was hurtful to him that 
she never came back to him, nevertheless I thought in that 
statement there was a recognition of a relationship that was 
more than just a physical one. 

Sara's Bout with Colitis. 1923 

Riess: In terms of the chronology of this story, we have talked about 
the trip to Europe, but not fully. Wasn't that precipitated by 
a need to think about what kind of a life they wanted to lead? 

Caldwell: Yes, their original purpose was to become permanent expatriates, 
not to come back at all. But I think that they didn't like--. 
Of course, we went to Italy when Mussolini was in control. But 
Pops had never been abroad. He'd sent his children abroad, but 
he'd never been. So I think it was partly a desire to see what 
Italy was like, and maybe for the privacy, I don't know. 

Riess: After September 17, 1923, and the fire, you were living in San 
Francisco. Were plans underway already for the trip? 


Caldwell: Oh, no, there's a long time in between there. My mother was 

very ill. She had this awful colitis. Of course, we now know 
it was probably psychosomatic -not that that isn't very real. 
But she had it. A dentist decided that if she had all her teeth 
removed- -there was pus or something at the roots- -it would solve 
it. She went to the hospital and she had all her teeth cut out. 

Riess : And in fact her teeth were bad? 

Caldwell: Yes. And it didn't do a damn thing about her colitis, but it 

almost killed her. She was in a coma so that one day the doctor 
came with a death certificate, expecting her to die that day. 
And we had a nurse around the clock. 

This had nothing to do with the breakdown. But it was then 
that Pops and I became so very close, so very, very close. 

Riess: When you think back, could you have anticipated some crisis in 
the works? 

Caldwell: No, this was a physical thing. 

Riess: I know, but you were said that it was probably psychosomatic. 

Caldwell: Oh no, no. This is my mature knowledge of medicine and 

psychology. No. See, my mother was always ailing, in one way 
or another, and always thought she was going to die. And then 
she lived to be ninety- two years of age. She always thought she 
had heart trouble , which she did not have . 

In any case, obviously she survived this, and then it was 
after that that we went to Europe, you see. And meanwhile they 
had made negotiations about land down in Los Gatos. 

Riess: This illness precipitated planning to get out of town? 

Caldwell: No, I don't think so. No, the illness was separate; it had no 
relationship to anything else. 

Riess: From that point on, she had false teeth? 

Caldwell: Yes, and I was simply horrified. I have a horror to this day, 
and here I am, eighty- six, with all my own teeth except two! I 
have taken care of my teeth with tender solicitation. 

Also it altered her appearance, you see, because it does 
kind of cave in your Jaw a bit. Her sister, who was very 
jealous of her, Mary Parton, said, "Erskine doesn't want Sara to 


be attractive to other men, and he's decided to have this done 
to her to deface her." 

I was so shocked at this cynical remark. Of course, that 
was not true at all. He wanted to try to overcome her terrible 
pain, discomfort over the colitis. Anyway, it didn't do 
anything about the colitis, and from then on I was just 
horrified at this idea. 

To Italy. January 1924 

Riess: When did you go to Europe? 

Caldwell: We went in January or February to Italy. 

Riess: Was there a lot of planning? 

Caldwell: Oh, they planned quite carefully, and must have made 
investigations about this lovely place we went to. 

We took heaven knows how many pieces of baggage with us, 
and great strong trunks. The idea was that we were going to 
stay indefinitely. 

I don't know where they heard about this lovely place 
called Cocumela in Sorrento on the Bay of Naples, not very far 
from Naples. Cocumela was a monastery that had been converted 
into a pensione, and had a beautiful citrus garden, orchard. It 
was right on the cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples. When we 
went there we went in a motorboat from Naples, and then they 
came out with rowboats and we stepped into the rowboat and were 
rowed to shore, and walked up a winding path through the cliff 
up to this beautiful garden. And there we stayed for some 
months . Beautiful place . 

Riess: Had planning begun for The Cats? 

Caldwell: I think they must have bought the land, but I'm unsure exactly 
whether they had made a firm contract on it or not, or whether 
they did that later. 

Riess: So there was that foothold in America. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, yes. That's true. It sounds so ambivalent, and it was 
in a way. On the one hand, they had the Los Gatos property in 
mind; on the other, they had gone for an indefinite time. 



They were very happy abroad. We lived in a lovely place. 
They had a huge room. I had my own room, too, with a balcony 
looking right off to the Bay of Naples. I used to be so 
astonished at how they could happily spend many hours in the 
morning, each of them writing, because I'm not a contemplative 

It was hard on me in terms of any kind of- -I had no 
organization in my life. I tried hard to find somebody to teach 
me Italian, but I couldn't find anybody who really was skilled 
at this. I had a lovely time socially, because there were lots 
of people and we danced every evening after dinner, and I 
enjoyed that and went on little excursions. But I had this 
uneasy feeling I wasn't being educated. 

Was there an itinerary? 

No, just as the mood suggested. 


Riess: You said earlier that you were working on languages in a school 
in Berkeley. 

Caldwell: Yes, I wanted to know French, but we went to Italy! And then I 
felt I shouldn't learn Italian, that it would spoil my French! 

The first word I learned in Italian was "thief," because I 
discovered that the taxi driver, horse -and -buggy driver, had 
advanced the meter beyond the legal standards and put his coat 
over it. I saw he was overcharging them. So "Ladro!" I would 
say, "Thief!" If I'd been a man, he would have knocked me flat, 
but as a young woman he couldn't do that. [laughs] I learned 
enough Italian to communicate. Very ungrammatically. 

Riess: Languages, was that what the school specialized in? 

Caldwell: Oh, no. They didn't specialize in language, they just had very 
fine teachers , and classes of two and three . They had a man who 
was a T.A. at Berkeley, or maybe even assistant professor, who 
needed to pick up a little more money. They had wonderful 
teachers. And I learned French idioms--. 

I never learned to pronounce French properly. I had quite 
good training at Berkeley High School , but my teacher was 
getting a Ph.D. at Stanford, and was American. And the woman in 


the private school was German. So I never really was exposed to 
a bona fide French accent. But I learned my idioms from that 
German woman, which have stood me in good stead. 

When I was at Radcliffe you had to have a reading knowledge 
of French and German to graduate. They had an exam once a year 
that you could take --you could take it any year. And it wasn't 
a matter of being graded: you passed or failed. I went in one 
time, and I thought I hadn't done well and didn't want to turn 
the paper in. They made me do it, and I passed it, and I hadn't 
looked at French since 1 was in high school. That was really 
quite good, I thought. But really, I had wonderful teachers at 
Berkeley High School. 

Seeing Art, and Life, in Europe with Poos 

Riess: Europe was your real introduction to art? 

Caldwell: No, my introduction to art was at the Art Institute in Chicago, 
and with Pops. I used to go [with him] in San Francisco to the 
market; he loved to go to the vegetable and fruit markets. And 
he'd say, "Oh, now you see that fruit, it looks just the way 
Manet would paint it," and so on. No, I got my interest in art 
as such, over and above representation, from my conversations 
with Pops, and the beautiful works of art in the house, the 
Ryder in the living room, Twachtman's "Harbor Scene" in the 
master bedroom, a still -life by Hassam in the dining room. 

Not that everyone takes to it. I notice it with my own son 
and daughter. My daughter was very responsive to art, and my 
son has no art discrimination. He was more interested in music 
and knows much more about music than any of us in the family. 
That was the art that he responded to. But visually, no. And 
they both grew up in the same environment. 

Pops would talk about Ryder, for example. I just loved 
Albert Pinkham Ryder, the great American painter, from the time 
I was in my teens , because here were these beautiful pictures in 
the house that he talked about. So I looked at pictures not as 
representation, but as an expression of a great creativity. The 
idea was that a work of art was something that you tried to look 
at through the eyes of the artist, not from the point of view of 

To my great joy Pops gave me a Ryder painting, "The 
Lorelei." The whole family, Jim, Sara and Dan, responded to the 


magic of that picture. 
York City. 

It is now in a private collection in New 

But not until I got to college did I take any courses in 
the history of art. Until then my art education had been very 
haphazard. Because Pops liked the Impressionists I was much 
more aware of them, and then if you're in Italy, the Italian 

Also he was crazy about Greek art, and I remember going to 
the National Gallery in Rome with him, and his pointing out how 
beautifully sculptural their feet were, because they weren't 
confined in ugly shoes . I looked at feet in quite a different 
way. I had thought they were ugly, sort of smelly things, and 
here they were , these beautiful sculptures . 

Riess: He sounds like a wonderful eye-opener. 

Caldwell: Veil, you see, he enjoyed what he was doing, no matter what it 
was. He was absorbed. Nowadays, that's what the Zen people 
urge, that you live in the moment. He had that extraordinary 
ability to enjoy whatever he was doing. So that when this awful 
news came about the IRS, I had never seen him so depressed, you 
see, and he was the most positive and affirmative person. 

Riess : You were in Sorrento for the winter and the spring? 

Caldwell: I'd have to figure the exact chronology, because we did then do 
some traveling. They went down to Sicily to see the Greek 
plays, and Mother tells a lot about that in her oral history. 

I wasn't interested in Greek plays, and it seemed to me if 
I were going to be educated I had to go back to Rome. So it was 
arranged that I would go /back and stay at a French convent not 
far from the Spanish Steps. The nuns were distressed by my 
failure to genuflect and to make the sign of the cross, and 
although I tried to conceal my agnosticism, each morning a nun 
would kneel by my bed in prayer. 

I made all the arrangements for Mother and Pops's hotel in 
Rome when they came back from Sicily. I really and truly was 
very competent, much better than I am now. The idea now of 
traveling alone is just unthinkable. Well, that's partly 
because of my dependence on a cane and so on. I was very 
self-confident; it never occurred to me I couldn't handle any 

What I did in Rome was to simply sight-see, which was 
difficult as a young woman alone because I would be pursued like 


an animal. I remember once just running, with a man running 
after me, and grabbing a cab- -only the cab was a carozza, not a 
motor vehicle. 

I knew a young man who was at the American Academy in Rome 
who was an American, and I got an elderly--! couldn't get out of 
the convent at night, you know, without some kind of 
chaperonage , so I somehow or other got hold of an old woman who 
would come and get me out, and then I'd meet this man from the 
American Academy. It was never a romance, but Just such a nice 

Riess: You must really enjoy the Henry James novels of that world. 
Caldwell: Yes, I do. I've just been reading The Golden Bowl . 
Riess: Anyway then, after that, you had to go home. 

Caldwell: I'm not sure where we were when we heard. It seems to me the 
news came to us in Sorrento, but I may be wrong about that, 
because we stayed abroad and we went to Rome , and we went to 
Venice, and also to Paris and London, briefly. 

I have some pewter plates downstairs in this house that we 
bought, and as we were getting out of the gondola they were 
dropped in the canal, and a diver went and got them. I think 
probably they were dropped on purpose so the diver could be paid 
to retrieve them- -I don't know. But I still have those pewter 
plates. And I remember going again on art tours with Pops in 
Venice . 

Riess: Sara would stay home on those art tours? 

Caldwell: I don't ever remember her going with us. Not that she didn't 
like art; she did. But my energy was boundless. It's pretty 
much that way now, except that because of my arthritis I don't 
get around as well. But my energy level is high. Her energy 
level was really quite low. I think she'd also rather stay home 
and read a book. 

Paris: Frugality. Ezra Pound. Ulysses 

Riess: You went with them to Paris? 

Caldwell: Yes, we went to Paris, and we went to London, too, but we stayed 
a little bit longer in Paris. I wanted very much to learn 


French, and I stayed in a school for a couple of weeks. Anyway, 
we stayed there for a short time. 

Pops always wanted to stay in these awful inns . When we 
went to Sicily we stayed in the most horrible place, and we got 
sick because of it. Pops would say, "Why waste your money?" He 
was so extravagant in other ways, but, "Why waste your money on 
shelter?" He'd spend heaven-knows -what at a restaurant, but he 
thought a good hotel was a waste of money- -the only suggestion 
of frugality I ever knew on his part. 

Riess: In Paris in the twenties- -did you meet famous people? 

Caldwell: The first time I heard of Ulysses was when we visited Ezra 

Pound. Ezra Pound was very much an admirer of Joyce. Anyway, 
when we went to see Pound, I realized he was a very important 
man. What 1 remember- -and Mother didn't remember it much at 
all --he sat at a table at a level above us, almost like a court 
room. I was so impressed! He talked down to us, literally! 

That's all I remember, and the mention of Ulysses . And 
then when I heard that it [Ulysses 1 was not acceptable in the 
United States, I thought, "Mm, I'll put one in the bottom of my 
trunk," and I did. I didn't read it until much later, 
interestingly enough. You would have thought, considering the 
freedom of sexual reference, that I would, but I just loved the 
idea of doing something to outwit the censors. 

I didn't approve, you see. I didn't approve of the 
government- -because of the ideas I was exposed to- -censoring it. 
It was not because it was a pornographic book, but it was 
because the government shouldn't be doing this. They should let 
people read what they want. That was the motivation. Very 
serious--! was a very serious person. [laughs] 

Riess: Did Pops know that you had the book? 

Caldwell: I don't know that they knew or not. I remember putting it in 
the very bottom, with underwear above and below. And they 
couldn't very well go through a steamer trunk, you know. I have 
that trunk down in this basement, by the way, I'm trying to sell 
it second-hand now and get it out of my basement. 

Riess: And do you still have that edition of Ulvsses? 

Caldwell: No, I don't. I have a Ulysses, but not that one. I don't even 
know what happened to it; I must have given it to someone. 









So those are your recollections of Pound? 

Just this man. I thought it was humorous, and I was not 
impressed with the majesty. I thought this was an astonishing 
way to receive guests. 

Were they visiting him because of connections in the poetry 
world, or the political world? 

I don't know. She [Sara Bard Field] speaks of having very 
little memory of it. Because I wanted to talk to you about my 
remembrance of it, I read what she had to say. And [there was] 
very little about Paris. 

And she doesn't mention this Bill Somebody-or-other who was 
the official, very much interested in the Soviet Union, in our 
foreign service, a man who impressed me because he was 
well-dressed and intelligent and a man of the world. I think we 
had dinner in their beautiful apartment. Either that or we went 
to the apartment after having dinner at a restaurant. Although 
1 don't remember going to restaurants in Paris at all. 

Were Gertrude Stein, or Leo Stein, connections in Paris? 

No, not at all, interestingly enough. Well, Pops wouldn't have 
liked Picasso or Braque. He just hated that, just the way I 
feel now about what's going on [in art], just can't understand 
such- -it was ugly. 

Did you go to galleries? 

I only remember going to the Louvre, with Pops, 
about "The Man with the Glove," the Titian? 


Did I tell you 

Well, we were wandering around, and I was crazy about Titian, I 
had gotten acquainted with his work in Rome. We were in front 
of this picture--! have a photograph of it somewhere, I can't 
put my hand on it now- -and he said, "See this beautiful young 
man in the velvet jacket with a lace collar and cuffs? But look 
at his gloves. His glove is torn. If you're an aristocrat, it 
doesn't matter if your glove is torn." [laughter] This was the 
wonderful combination Pops had of rich, sensuous enjoyment, 
along with the political- -economic, I should say. 


Discoveries in Diary. 1923 

Caldwell: There are two trips to Washington --this is what I have 

discovered. There was the trip when I was fifteen, the one I 
described before, in 1921. And here's another one, in 1923, 
prior to the trip to Europe. I went first to Chicago, and then 
to Washington, and then Mother and Pops came on to Washington. 
This is all described in a diary that I recently found] . Then 
we went to New York to take the ship, and then abroad. The 
chronology is there. It tells exactly when we sailed, and so 

Riess: Are there wonderful things to read into the oral history from 
the diary? 

Caldwell: No, no, it's very prosaic, just factual, just what we did, you 
know. Even here: "Sea calm." [laughs] We sailed on 10th of 
January, 1924. 

Riess: I can't believe it is all prosaic. Didn't you have a shipboard 

Caldwell: Oh, well, there was a young man, but 1 was too young for him. f 
charming Italian who flirted with me, and I just thought that 
was marvelous- -as we entered the Bay of Naples. He sang an 
Italian song. But I was much too young for this sophisticated 
young Italian. 

Riess: Who did you see in Chicago on that second trip? 

Caldwell: Well, here it is. "I left the Oakland pier," it says, "at 

11:30, alone. Mother and Pops said goodbye in San Francisco." 
And then I describe the dreary, barren lands that we passed 
through. Then "I went to the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago and 
had dinner with Lyd[ia] and Bob Minor." They were extremely 
radical friends of my mother and stepfather's. 

"I went to a number of museums and had lunch at Marshall 
Field's with Mrs. Van Volkenburg." (That was Mrs. Maurice 
Browne.) And went to the Art Institute. "Many Corot and 
Whistler pictures." "Accompanied by Margaret Johannsen." By 
the way, her husband was an extremely radical labor leader who 
was involved in the McNamara case- -not involved in the case 
itself, but he was there as an observer of the trial. 

"Went lobbying with Anita Pulitzer for the Lucretia Mott 
amendment." "Miss Salas from the Philippine Islands suffrage 
movement dined with us." 


Surely you don't want all this! 

And then "Mother and Pops arrived from Chicago" --that would 
be December 24th, 1923. "Celebrated Christmas there... went to 
Freer Gallery." And "went to Senator La Toilette's house." 
Phil La Follette. "Phil La Toilette's wife said she'd try to 
get me a Wisconsin room." (By this time it was decided I would 
be going to the University of Wisconsin.) 

Riess: And that is different, because earlier you described yourself 

still deciding, when you were in Europe, whether or not to go to 
the Sorbonne . 

Caldwell: Yes, that's true. But fundamentally I wanted to return to the 
USA with Mother and Pops. 

"We lunched with Mrs. Eugene Meyer, and went to the 
Corcoran Art Gallery." 

Riess: Whose connection was Eugene Meyer? 
Caldwell: That was Pops' s, definitely. 

Then "We left Washington, arrived in Baltimore, Maryland, 
and we went to see Pops's old home, nearby." And we went to 
Doris Stevens and Dudley Malone's for dinner. They were very 
prominent in politics and in the suffrage movement too. 

Riess: Did you really participate in all of this, or were you just 
little Kay? 

Caldwell: I felt pretty much myself. I was quite grown-up. And the 

things we did were all adult activities. We went to see "Cyrano 
de Bergerac" in the evening. 

This I think was kind of amusing: "Saw Mrs. Blumenthal's 
home (palace)." She was a tremendously wealthy person. "Dinner 
with Zona Gale" --she was a famous novelist at the time. "Dined 
with the La Follettes at the Waldorf." 

But you see, these are just factual things, not any comment 
really, except the parenthetical comment about Mrs. Blumenthal's 
house . 

Riess: Further on, are there reflections on your decision about 

Caldwell: Not anything. I was impressed with the fact that there are no 
reflections. These are all factual records of what we did and 
where we were . 


Rless: You were impressed that you were so disinclined to make comment. 

Caldwell: Yes, I wondered about that as I read this over. I never 
referred ever to any of my feelings. There is no really 
personal note about it at all. Completely objective. Now, 
whether that's suppression- -I'm not sure. 

For example, here we are at the Cocumela, this marvelous 
monastery converted to a pensione where we stayed for quite a 
number of months. And I can remember the things I did there: a 
group of American art students, and what fun I had with them, 
but no mention of that at all. I was marooned with these young 
men on the island of Capri, we couldn't get back on account of a 
storm, and we danced at the hotel, and I remember that I was the 
only one that had traveler's checks and temporarily financed 
everybody. Characteristic- -I've always been so anxious to have 
economic security. 

I was a frightfully, frightfully good little girl. My 
father filled me with the fear of God about pregnancy. In those 
days one did not sleep with somebody at the drop of a hat, you 
know. And the journal, it just says "Cocumela," "Cocumela," 
"Cocumela," each day, without any comment. My memories of it 
are all in my head, not on paper. 

I describe the motor trip we took up and down the coast of 
Italy, and going to Sicily. Now there was a most interesting 
thing that happened in Sicily. I had a proposal of marriage 
from a student I met casually on a stroll in Taormina. It was 
most amusing. I talk about the places we had gone to, the 
famous Greek temples there, but it was extraordinary that I said 
nothing here about that young man- -he practically jumped out of 
the bushes when I was walking early in the morning to go see 
Mount Etna. But I didn't say a word in this journal! 

Riess: [Riess reading diary.] "Walked the streets in the afternoon. 
Many Titians, Van Dycks, Rafaels." "Left London, arrived 
Paris." "Paris," "Paris," "Paris." 

September 13, 1924. "Left New York and my darling family 
at 12:50." "Arrived Chicago, went to Art Institute, and had 
lunch with Nelly [Ellen] Van Volkenburg." September 16, 1924. 
"Arrived in Madison. Came on 8:15 a.m. from Chicago. Homer 
[Johannsen] saw me off." "Looking around Madison. Spent night 
with Isabel La Follette." 

Caldwell: Isabel [Belle Case] La Follette was the wife of the senator. 
Riess: "Registration began." "Dad arrived in afternoon." 


Caldwell: My father. I didn't remember he had come there. But it was 

Colonel Vood who financed my college education from beginning to 

Riess: "Registration continued. Sorority teas. Mostly out-of-town 

girls. In morning drove around Lake Mendota with Dad. And then 
Dad left for the West." 

Caldwell: It's so dull. It just doesn't expression any personal reactions 
at all. 



College Choice 

Riess : Was there any thought of leaving you behind when they returned? 

Cal dwell: Oh, no, no, I didn't want to be that far away from them. And in 
those days there were no airplanes, and no picking up the phone 
and in a few minutes being in touch. I wouldn't have been 
afraid to stay; I just chose not to. 

Interesting you should ask that. I think there was an 
option, but there's where my timidity came in. I would not want 
to stay on. But the question was, where to go to college. As I 
mentioned, in those days you could not graduate from a 
California high school and pass the College Board Examinations 
for an Eastern college. No possibility. I did think at one 
time I wanted to go to Stanford, but I didn't make it. They 
only took five hundred women at that time. So then, what to do? 

Well, Mrs. La Follette, the wife of Robert M. La Follette 
[senator from Wisconsin, 1906-1925], was among Mother's Women's 
Party pals. And the University of Wisconsin then was in the 
forefront of liberal political and educational thought, as now 
Berkeley has been for so many years. It was one of the leading 
state universities --it' s still an excellent university, but it 
was innovative then. They had Alexander Meiklejohn, with whom I 
became very well acquainted, and for which reason I majored in 
philosophy when I went to Harvard. 

So anyway, I had two years at Wisconsin, and it was through 
the La Follettes that I met the man I married, because Jim 
Caldwell was a roommate in college with the to -be -governor of 
Wisconsin, who was a La Follette [Philip Fox La Follette]. I 
was given a letter of introduction and went to a house -party, 
and I met Jim. 


Riess: Did you consider Vellesley, or Vassar, after tutoring? 

Caldwell: Well, there wasn't much money spent on my education on the part 
of my beloved Mother and Pops until I got to college. All of 
Colonel Woods 's children, his grandchildren, went to the 
Katherine Branson School in Mar In County. There was never any 
consideration that I should go to any but a public school. 

Riess: And the University of California was ruled out? 

Caldwell: That was because of my unpleasant memories of Berkeley as a 
child, because of my unhappy situation- -it had nothing to do 
with UC Berkeley. I didn't ever want to see Berkeley again, 
really. I Just wanted to write Berkeley off. I wouldn't want 
it to be thought for a moment that it had anything to do with 
the quality of the university, but my childhood here was very 
unhappy, so Berkeley did not mean peace of mind. 

Visconsin. and Alexander Meiklelohn 

Riess: College is a time to get away from home. 

Caldwell: I do feel that quite strongly, yes. I think that's a good idea, 
to make a change. And also Visconsin had the same reputation 
for liberality, both politically and educationally, that 
Berkeley has had for so many years. It was the public 
institution that had a reputation for innovation and quality. 

Riess: The experimental college had started. 

Caldwell: That's right, Mr. Meiklejohn's. I knew Meiklejohn because 

Mother and Pops knew him, so I had a personal introduction to 
him. I took his course, and when I transferred to Radcliffe I 
majored in philosophy, Just because of my exposure to Mr. 
Meiklejohn at Wisconsin. 

Riess: His course in philosophy was taught in the experimental college? 

Caldwell: No, it was part of the regular college. I was not in the 

experimental college. It was one class, one course. I only 
took my first two years there, so I was not obliged to declare a 
major. I was just taking things here and there, and having a 
terrible time deciding on a major. 

I was very much thrown in my choice of a major by knowing 
Meiklejohn. He believed, you see, that professors and students 


should study together by taking up a topic that the professor 
himself was beginning to inform himself about. He thought that 
was part of the educating process. And he was crazy about Greek 
philosophy. So he chose classical Greek civilization. 

Here 1 had been in Italy, and loved Italian culture, and I 
was completely confused about what I wanted to zero in on as a 
specialty. It was very dismaying to me, because presumably if 
you went in for Greek classical civilization then you studied 
the language , and as a college student to begin a language would 
have been so time-consuming. 

Riess: Was that his philosophy or the experimental college philosophy? 

Caldwell: You mean choosing the Greek? 

Riess: Was that how the experimental college worked? 

Caldwell: As I heard him discuss it then, it was a question of professors 
and students learning together. Of course, the advantage --this 
is my comment on it- -the advantage would be that the professor 
would have had research methods and a much wider culture and 
deeper one than the students. But the idea of the enthusiasm 
and the excitement of sharing the learning process, whatever it 
was- -he just happened to zero in on the classical civilization. 

Riess: Well, what did you learn those first two years? 

Caldwell: What did I get out of that? 1 would say the most impressive 
academic experience was Meiklejohn. And I met Jim there, you 
see, so that also was very, very distracting for my scholarly 
interests. I was much more focussed on Jim than on my studies! 

Meeting James Caldwell: Friends at Wisconsin 

Caldwell: I lived in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, 1 belonged to that. 

Amusingly enough, many of the women that have been my friends in 
later life, and have gone to different institutions, if they 
have been sorority women it was always that particular one. I 
never could quite figure that out. 

I think I mentioned I met Jim at the La Follette ranch. 
And at the same time I met John Fairbank, who became such a 
great scholar in Chinese history, the greatest authority on 
modern Chinese history of our time. 


Jim was a little bit older. The other men who became so 
distinguished that I met at that same time were in my advanced 
freshman English class. We were exactly the same age, and we 
were freshmen, so I did see something of them. But Jim made a 
great impression on me. It was very distracting to my scholarly 
life, and the dean of women greatly disapproved of my friendship 
with Jim, for a freshman. See, Jim was an instructor in the 
English department. 

Riess: And it was noted that you were dating him. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. Remember, it wasn't a huge, enormous community like 

this one. It was a much smaller student body then, so everybody 
knew everybody else. 

Riess: He had gotten a B.A. from Princeton. 

Caldwell: Yes, he was studying for his master's at the University of 

Wisconsin. And of course, you see, his whole social circle was 
a faculty one, much older people. He was only six years older, 
but still, at that age to be a freshman or to be a graduate 
student made a great difference. 

But I was so accustomed to being with adults all of my life 
that this attracted me much more than these other young men that 
turned out to be so brilliant, and whom I liked. Jim's whole 
milieu and entourage- -whatever you want to call it- -his whole 
gang, to put it more simply, was more of the kind of 
conversation and sophistication of conversation I was used to. 
But of course, I was nevertheless a rather naive, enthusiastic 
freshman, both of those things. 

I'll never forget my stepfather, before we left Paris, had 
some dresses made for me at a very, very well-known place in 
Paris. And I didn't have a lot of clothes, but what I had were 
very, very inappropriate for college. My roommate, whom I still 
know- -she lives down in San Luis Obispo--my first roommate there 
was very scornful of my having lived in Paris. In those days, 
people didn't travel the way they do. 

Riess: Scornful? 

Caldwell: I was very, very much looked down upon, socially, as elitist and 
superior, you know. I might have been a pain in the neck too, 
you know. But on the other hand, I was awfully naive about 
people, very, very naive and spontaneous. I didn't have devious 
plans. It astonished me to see how the students, my 
contemporaries, my peers, would decide they wanted to, so to 


speak, "get" a certain young man's attention, and go after him. 
I couldn't imagine making overtures to a man. 

To this day, I'm very reticent about treating men in any 
kind of flirtatious way. I mean, that must sound silly at my 
age, but I've always been very reticent about being femininely 
flirtatious with men. Always was defensive. I always greatly 
enjoyed the men I knew as a freshman there. I dated these other 
men that I thought were so much fun. 

I don't think I told you about the way I saw some more of 
the people my own age and class at the University of Wisconsin. 
When you first entered the English class, they had you write an 
essay. Those they felt were superior were put into an advanced 
English class. So that's how I happened to be in class with 
these very bright people of my own generation. I was very 
fortunate. It wasn't just through Jim and his far more 
sophisticated associates--! mean, I did meet very interesting 
people my own age , and they turned out to have made quite 
considerable contributions to their various fields. 

Riess: Who were they, beside Fairbank? 

Caldwell: Well, John Fairbank the most, and Clyde Kluckholm, who was an 
anthropologist studying the American Indian. He turned out to 
be very, very unhappy, and I think committed suicide. 

Riess: Were people there aware of Sara? 

Caldwell: Only the La Follette family and their friends. So when I saw 
more of Jim, of course, they all knew who they were. 

Riess: But as a freshman, you were anonymous? 

Caldwell: I would say yes, among my peers. Yes, Fairbank and the others 
had no idea, and I didn't mention them. I mean, after all. 

Riess: This, I should think, would have been the greatest thing about 
Wisconsin for you, was anonymity, in some way. What do you 
think about that? Or did you miss the Russian Hill life? 

Caldwell: One reason I think I was so attracted to Jim and his circle was 
that was much more the kind of atmosphere I had been used to 
always. Even in high school--! think I told you before--! 
preferred the few men I knew who were older and in college. 

Riess: You didn't take college as an opportunity to become a new 


Caldwell: No, I don't think so. But I've always been, for all that- -this 
might make my daughter laugh- -but I've always been socially 
very, very self-conscious and timid, and fearful. 

Riess: And your daughter wouldn't see you that way? 

Caldwell: No. [laughs] She sees me as her mother giving these little 

dinner parties, and lecturing to huge groups of people, and so 

Riess: I believe that one can be both of those people. It's a little 
hard to convince others. You said that your mother had had a 
little talk with you about early marriage. Can you remember 

Caldwell: No, not at all. 

Riess: Well, she says in her oral history that she had a little talk 
with Kay about avoiding early marriage. 

Caldwell: Oh, they didn't want me to be married before I got out of 
college. I think that was the idea. 

Riess: I see. All right, so you had met Jim. 

Caldwell: Yes, and the environment that he lived in, the fact that he was 
older and in a more sophisticated environment than my 
undergraduate friends, enhanced the pleasure of his company and 
the whole world he lived in. 

Riess: What did sophistication mean? 

Caldwell: Well, we did not live together, if that is what you're trying to 
ask. And actually--. People in those days would have concealed 
it if they had, so I may be naive in thinking that not as many 
people were likely to do this than actually happened. 

But remember, my father was a Baptist minister, and he took 
me when I was about thirteen years old and showed me a home in 
Oakland for "fallen" women, women who had been taken advantage 
of by men, that had fallen in love with them and had become 
pregnant and had an illegitimate child. This was for women who 
were being housed through pregnancy and birth. And this made a 
terrible impression on me. 

Even if you felt perfectly confident about a man, it seemed 
to me you had to be very, very sure that you weren't taken 
advantage of. But this wasn't anything I thought, it was a 
reaction, an utterly unconscious reaction. And I think that my 


father damaged--. He didn't mean to, but he made me more 
fearful about men than he ever would have intended to do. 

Riess: This sense that they would take advantage. 

Caldwell: Yes, and women should always be wary, and it was a terrible 
thing to have an illegitimate child. It's a disgrace of 

Interestingly enough, my mother and stepfather of course 

were living together in this utterly unconventional way, and not 

accepted by society at large in that time at all. But that was 

special, and they loved each other. The confidence between them 
was so apparent. 

Jim, and Sara and Colonel Wood 



Jim then- -this is awfully amusing- -of course couldn't help but 
hear an awful lot from me about my mother and Colonel Wood. And 
when Colonel Wood heard that Jim was a smoker, he just hit the 
ceiling. He wrote a famous letter- -remember, they hadn't met 
yet and Jim was, what, twenty -six --and my stepfather wrote him a 
letter about the terrible evils of smoking, in which he 
enclosed- -it's fascinating, and the letter exists 
today- -enclosed a letter from a doctor in San Francisco who 
pointed out it was even bad for your heart. Now, that hasn't 
been brought up in public as public knowledge until our own 

Jim was furious . The idea of someone telling him how he 
should live. And those were the days when young men seemed to 
proclaim their maturity with smoking a cigarette, you know. 
Little tunes like "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, if the Camels 
don't get you, the Fatimas must." And really saying they'll 
kill you, but thinking it was funny, you see. It made a great 
impression on me. Obviously my Baptist father wouldn't smoke, 
but Pops and Mother felt very strongly about the bad physical 
effects of smoking. So I was brought up to feel that strongly. 

That's extraordinary, that he would put pen to paper with this. 

With somebody 1 was interested in? 
treated me like his own, you see. 

Oh, he certainly would. He 

Jim was just furious about this. But in the course of time 
he wanted to meet them, and they wanted to meet him. He got 


a- -maybe even arranged through Ben [Lehman] for all I know- -oh, 
no, it was Noel Sullivan who as a Catholic was very much 
involved in the San Rafael girls college, Dominican, and Jim was 
offered a summer job teaching there, and that's what paid his 
way to California. 

Riess: That was after your freshman year? 
Caldwell : Yes . 

I met Jim with their car, Pops and Mother's car, at the 
railroad train. Then he was so nervous about meeting Mother and 
Colonel Wood that he wanted a tour of San Francisco, anything 
but to get down to Los Gatos for that great confrontation. We 
finally got down there, and whether it was a late lunch or an 
early dinner I don't know, but it was a meal that Mary had made. 
They [the Marengos] were very interested too, because they loved 
me and 1 loved them- -they were the people that worked for them. 

Pops's youngest daughter was there, Lisa Wood Smith, one of 
the most wonderful human beings you could ever know, and she 
made everybody feel comfortable. Jim was put next to her at the 
table, and he'll never forget, the way she treated him just made 
him feel completely at home. She just looked at him with her 
beautiful, warm brown eyes and said, "Jim, it's so nice to have 
you here." Well, now, anybody can say that, but it was how she 
said it, from the heart, and looking him straight in the eyes. 
Then he just relaxed and felt fine. So I've always been so 
grateful to her. [laughs] She's a wonderful person. 

Riess: But you sensed that there would be rapport. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, absolutely. Oh, I knew they all would become devoted 
to one another, which indeed they were. I couldn't possibly--! 
said that, I think, in my "Afterword"--! couldn't have married 
anyone that could have been more congenial with my family. And 
he convinced them that with my love of learning I should go to 
an Eastern college. So that's how I happened to. He said, "The 
University of Wisconsin is just fine, but she really ought to 
have the experience of an Eastern college." 

Well, there were so many people that wanted to transfer, 
you had to have influence in addition to your academic record. 
So Pops knew a great lawyer in Boston named Morfield Storey, a 
great, great man of his day, and Morfield Storey, who of course 
had never seen me, but admired Colonel Wood, wrote a letter in 
my favor. I'm sure it was the most influential factor in my 
having gotten into Radcliffe. Anyway, that's how I got in. Of 
course, you had to have a certain grade average naturally, but 


then there were so many other people who had equally good grade 
averages, so you had to have something else. That's true today, 
that ' s true anywhere . 

Radcliffe Studies. A.N. Whitehead. and Others 

Caldwell: I entered Radcliffe in my junior year. 
Riess: Did you live on campus? 

Caldwell: No, I didn't want to. I had not enjoyed living in a sorority, 
so I did not want to live in a dormitory. There was a charming 
woman named Cornelia Green, a spinster. She had a lovely house, 
English furniture, and because she was elderly and couldn't do 
any of the housework or cooking, that is how she spent the 
money- -this I figured out- -that we paid her, and she had not 
only a cook but a second maid. There were three students living 
there . 

I had an awfully nice room with a fireplace that the other 
girls of course shared, at my invitation. That was my first 
year there. I can't remember why, whether she stopped doing 
this--I mean, Miss Green- -stopped having Radcliffe girls or not, 
but I lived in two other private houses during the time 1 was at 
Radcliffe. Never anything so enjoyable as this one. 

Riess: Did Radcliffe have the great sense of being among women, sort of 
intensely female? 

Caldwell: Well, it was a new experience for me, because 1 was so used to 
co-education. I don't know whether I can answer that question, 
because 1 was very much aware, even to this day, of what a 
difference there is in your social judgments of a college if you 
come in from the beginning or come in as a transfer student. I 
never felt as identified as 1 might have. 

I was very grateful for having gone there , because I had 
never met, encountered, such high academic standards in my whole 
life. And actually, I didn't know--I majored in philosophy, and 
I didn't know whether I could make it academically that first 
year. I had Alfred North Whitehead as a professor, and 1 had 
Etienne Gilson from the Sorbonne. 

The arrangement was --you see, there is no such thing as a 
Radcliffe faculty, you know, it's all Harvard faculty. You can 
either, with the consent of the professor, have all your courses 
in the Harvard Yard co-educationally, or, if the professor does 


not want women in his classes, he was obliged to repeat the 
course at Radcliffe, which means the enrollment would be very 
small, and he's also paid doubly. That's a great inducement, 
because of course he gets double pay. But anyway, so I had a 
course with Vhitehead in a class of five, that great man. 

As far as Gilson was concerned, we tried to show--. We 
felt insecure as Radcliffe students vis-a-vis the men at 
Harvard, so we tried to assume a great superiority, and one of 
them was to petition Professor Gilson to lecture to us in French 
instead of English. "Of course, those Harvard men, they 
wouldn't be up to that kind of thing." You know, that's the 
kind of stance we took. 

Riess: Did you take your lectures in French from him? 

Caldwell: Some of them. I think he was told by the administration he 
shouldn't any more. The Harvard authorities cracked down on 
Gilson because he didn't believe in giving examinations by 
offering questions that the students hadn't been alerted about. 
He would say before the exam, "Here are five topics. Two of 
these will be your examination topics." We thought that was 
wonderful, of course, but we had to take them all over again, 
because Harvard didn't like that idea. 

Riess: I don't know that name, Gilson. 

Caldwell: Etienne Gilson. Well, he was a great man in logic. He was from 
the Sorbonne . 

And Whitehead was just charming. He and his wife even 
invited their undergraduates to their soirees. I think it was 
every month, in the evening, they invited students into their 

Riess: Did you have a sense that you were getting a slightly 

watered-down version of what they were getting at Harvard? 

Caldwell: Never, never, never. Not ever. But of course, Whitehead was 
impossible for us really to understand. 

Then all of a sudden a woman from England came and 
everybody acknowledged she was the only one in Cambridge who 
really understood Whitehead. Dorothy Emmett her name was, and 
she eventually went back to a university in England as a 
professor, specializing in Whitehead. She was an amazing woman. 
I had never met anyone like her, and of course I was in awe of 
her knowledge. 


Cal dwell: 

Caldwell : 


We all had to do so much studying that we only- -this was 
true generally, as far as I know- -only went out one night a 
week, socially. Saturday night, we went to the Boston Symphony. 
I used to see a lot of John Fairbank when I transferred there , 
even though 1 was in love with Jim. But he was back in 
Wisconsin, and 1 had my social life and he did too. [laughs] 
Clyde Kluckholm and John Fairbank had both transferred to 
Harvard . 

Jim was still in Wisconsin at this point? 
Yes. That's right, that first year. 

Philosophy is such a difficult field of study, 
you'll never get your head above water. 

I think you feel 

Well, I regret 
had majored in 
undergraduate . 
dates , and one 
was sequential 
facts or dates 
doing it. 

having majored in it, really. I would rather I 
history, or history of art maybe, as an 

But my memory has always been terrible for 
of the reasons I enjoyed philosophy is because it 
in thought and didn't depend on either historical 
so much. I think that was influential in my 

Anyway, these great men were wonderful to be with. But 
Whitehead one time said, "Well, Miss Ehrgott, did you understand 
today's lecture?" I said, "Some of it, Professor Whitehead." 
And he told me this delicious joke. "Well," he said, "it's like 
the bishop's egg. His hostess asked him if he enjoyed his 
breakfast egg, and he said, 'Parts of it.'" [laughter] I've 
never forgotten the humiliation. My face just flushed red. 

Troubled Tutors 

Caldwell: I had two very, very distressing experiences there that had 
nothing to do with me. 

They had the tutorial system, and my first tutor, who was 
always immaculately groomed- -this is important to know for what 
happens later- -polished shoes and a white handkerchief in the 
pocket, and creased pants, and he was the only professor 1 knew 
who mentioned his wife ever in his lectures , he was infatuated 
with his wife. All of a sudden he discovered that she was 
having an affair with one of his graduate students, and he had a 
nervous breakdown. He suddenly became disheveled, and took on 


(At that time, interestingly enough, two things you 
couldn't do as a professor at Harvard was drink with your 
students or be homosexual. Santayana, the great aesthetician, 
was fired from Harvard because he was homosexual. Those were 
different days. I unfortunately didn't have a chance to study 
with Santayana for that reason. He was before my time there.) 

Anyway, this tutor of mine was then very intelligently 
dealt with by Harvard. Instead of firing him, they sent him off 
to be psychoanalyzed by Jung. But unfortunately, he committed 
suicide. He cut his wrists with a razor blade. That was kind 
of traumatizing. 

My second tutor, Dumas, also had a nervous breakdown. 
Riess: What was his name? 

Caldwell: His name was Raphael Dumas. It's funny, I'm blocking right now 
on the other man's name. I thought I'd never forget it. It 
will come to me at some point. 

Anyhow, Dumas was a bachelor, and absolutely devoted to the 
book he was writing on Plato. His nervous breakdown was not 
caused by affairs of the heart. He took forever to get this 
book finished, so when anybody met him, instead of saying, "Do 
you think it's going to rain," or "Where are you going on 
vacation," they'd say, "How's the book coming?" And he Just 
cracked up because he hadn't finished this book. 

Well, he also went off to Jung and came back, and he was a 
great success. He eventually, even though quite along in middle 
age, married and lived happily ever after, unlike the other 

Riess: I think Henriette Lehman was another who went to see Jung. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, they had a whole cult here of people--. And they never 
broke the umbilical cord with Jung, Jungian philosophy, they all 
got together, and it was kind of a Joke in Berkeley. 

Riess: Why Jung? Why do you think? 

Caldwell: I don't know. I was Just told this. But I knew they were 

psychoanalyzed, and Harvard was very glad to [see to that]. At 
the time I thought that was very, very intelligent, but still it 
was a terrible Jolt to have these two tutors--. 

You see, in those days either because of the finances or 
the population the enrollment was small enough so that you 


actually did have a tutor one to one. I think later on they 
weren't able to afford to do that. And you got acquainted with 
them--. Ralph- some thing was the name of the first man; I can't 
think of his last name at the moment. Anyway. 

Issues of Feminism, and We sternness 

Caldwell: There was something else I wanted to say about Dorothy Emmett. 
I was so impressed with her knowledge and her training and her 
wonderful education. Her life was so disciplined that if you 
wanted to have tea with her you had to make a date maybe a month 

Finally when the great moment came when I could have tea 
with Dorothy Emmett I asked her about her education, and she 
remarked that she had had ten years of Latin. I was just 
shocked. Ten years of Latin! Good heavens! "Oh," she said, "I 
can't imagine life without it." [laughter] 

Riess: How old was she? 

Caldwell: She was still a young woman, I suppose she was in her thirties. 
But she seemed to us at age twenty- three as much older. 

I was then so aware of the difference between British and 
American education. I remember thinking, good heavens, I've had 
two years of Latin, and I thought that was quite enough. 

Riess: Did you meet any women- -maybe Dorothy Emmett counts as one- -who 
then became role models? 

Caldwell: No, except that we were so proud of the fact that a woman had 
had this great distinction about understanding Uhitehead. 

See, as Radcliffe women we were not feminists in the sense 
of resenting the fact that we didn't have the same privileges at 
Harvard that the men had. For example, we could not use the 
stacks at the Videner Library, and this was humiliating. There 
was a little room you had to go to, and you had, in the most 
circuitous way, to find your books. 

But we didn't resent it, because we were told when we came 
there that we didn't have privileges, but rather we were granted 
advantages. And this was true. I mean, it was a private 
college, it was not a state university. So we accepted this. 




It was interesting that the women students were very 
frustrated when they couldn't take a course. There were 
professors at Harvard who both forbade women to enter their 
classes and did not repeat the class, I think. I'm not quite 
sure of that. I may be wrong. 

In any case , what I wanted to mention now is that there was 
an anthropology class where the students were about to go on a 
dig somewhere, out of the country, but it was unthinkable that 
the women would go. What would you do about toilets? What 
would you do about sleeping arrangements? And so on. There was 
one girl who was very brilliant. She wasn't angry about this, 
but she simply had to go on this trip, professionally. So she 
quietly researched, found out what every student was 
specializing in, and discovered there was one very important 
aspect of this project that had been neglected. 

Without saying a word she became utterly skilled and 
proficient in this particular area, and they had to take her. 
That's the kind of thing women did. But I don't remember anyone 
taking the feminist attitude, "This is unfair." I think if this 
had been a public institution there would have been a whole 
different story, but we were told in the beginning that we had 
privileges, but not rights, at Harvard. 

You were among women with goals that were more than home and 

Well, I suppose so. The ones in Miss Green's house where I 
first lived, I liked them very much. But they teased me as a 
Westerner. They thought that for Westerners everything had to 
be very large, and one time as a Joke they got some enormous 
grapefruit, and put on them some candlesticks or something like 
that, something or other, just as a joke for me. "Happy 
Birthday to the Californian, " or something like that. They very 
much made me aware I was a Westerner. 

Miss Green one morning- -she was very fond of me and I of 
her- -said, "Katherine, I realize that people speak in a 
different way in the West, but there is one word that you say 
that I find the pronunciation very hard to hear. It's a-range. 
You say o-range." [laughter] So from then on--I was so fond of 
her- -we had a-range juice. I pronounced it her way. 

But as far as the girls were concerned, I felt they were 
very conservative in their attitude toward their professors. 
They criticized me for asking questions in class. I asked them 
why. I said, "Haven't we come here to learn?" "Oh, yes, but 
you shouldn't ask a question unless you know a great deal." 


"But," I said, "I can't know anything comparable to what the 
professor knows. I want to find out what he knows." But the 

professors didn't treat me that way at all. 

They were very 

It was while I was at Radcliffe that 1 read the entire 
Divine Comedy, with the great Professor [Charles Hall] 
Grandgent. He was very old-fashioned in his attitude toward 
women, so when we came to anything, even a borderline case of 
having to do with sex, he then, instead of having us translate 
it, read it, just the text, in Italian. We didn't translate it 
at all, in other words, out loud. 

Art History. Lang don Warner 

Riess: When did you meet Langdon Warner? 

Caldwell: 1 met him as soon as I came to Radcliffe, because he was a 

friend of Colonel Wood's. 1 had a personal letter to him and 1 
was entertained in his home . So then 1 took his course , because 
I liked him. 

Riess: His course was what? 

Caldwell: Chinese and Japanese art. His specialty was Japanese art, but 
he gave the survey course, you see. So we started out with 

Riess: Was that the first art history you had had? 

Caldwell: Yes, that was the first art history course I ever had. 

In Warner's class we went to the museums --the Boston 
Museum. Of course the Fogg Museum at Harvard is a fine place 
but the Boston Museum had these great, great collections of 
Chinese and Japanese art. That was a revelation to me. I 
realized I had never seen anything that you could call great 
Asian art on the West Coast. It was just a complete eye-opener. 

Riess: Did you have an instant liking for the Chinese and Japanese art? 

Caldwell: No--. Well, we always had the Chinese furniture you're sitting 
on right now, but I hadn't thought--. I've often wondered how 
influential the furnishings in my home were, but I can't really 
be sure there was any connection. I loved going to Chinatown 
with Colonel Wood, and I loved the Chinese that I saw with him, 


and got an interest because he would go there to buy a bowl or a 
pewter dish or something, a container or something. 

It must have been unconsciously influential. But 1 didn't 
go there saying, "Because I've come from San Francisco that has 
Chinatown, 1 am therefore going to become involved in Asian 
art." There was no positive connection is what I'm trying to 
say. It was just influential without being a positive decision. 

Riess: Did taking that first class focus you on what you really liked? 

Cal dwell: I think it probably did, although I took other classes, you 

know, in art history there, too. I took one on the Renaissance 
with Chandler Post, who had been a school friend of my mother's 
in Detroit, Michigan. 

Another thing that impressed me very much was the fact that 
our professors took us to private collections, and somehow it 
seemed such a marvelous opportunity to be able to see original 
works of art. But you know, art history wasn't my major. It 
was when I came back and got my master's degree at Harvard that 
I specialized in art history. And that was after I was married, 
when Jim was teaching at Harvard in a most lowly capacity, a 
teaching assistant. 

I would like to talk more about Langdon Warner. He was a 
man who never had a Ph.D., who learned his craft and his skills 
by exploration. The focus of his life, the most important event 
professionally, was his visit to a place in western China called 
Tun Huang. There were some wonderful cave paintings there which 
had been preserved because of the weather- -it's very dryand 
also because the trade routes had changed and they had been 

He made a very spectacular find there in- -I've forgotten 
the year- -and he had the permission of the Chinese government to 
take back some specimens. He presented his credentials to an 
uneducated priest who was presumably "in charge" of these caves. 
And he [the priest] said, "Well, take anything you want, except 
the new ones." Langdon Warner realized the ignorance of the 
priest, that he didn't recognize that these Eighth Century and 
earlier works were of course the greatest treasure. 

With the permission of the Chinese government he took a 
sculpture, a kneeling bodhisattva--a bodhisattva is a Buddhist 
figure who is compassionate and delays going into nirvana in 
order to save other people- -he took this almost lifesize figure 
made of unbaked clay, meaning it was so fragile that you almost 
were afraid that if you looked at it it would develop cracks, 


wrapped it in his underwear, because he felt it didn't have 
enough packing, and took it by bullock- cart across these rough 
areas to where he could transport it to the United States. 

As a student at Harvard, taking his class, my attention was 
focused on these works of art he had found in central Asia. 
This beautiful statue, and a piece of the wall. The Chinese, by 
the way, had neglected these beautiful works of art. It wasn't, 
curiously enough, until the Communist era when 1 suppose they 
were aware that these were tourist attractions, that they began 
to preserve them and were very severe about their being visited. 
But in those days nobody went there. 

Langdon Warner's description, in a book called The Long Old 
Road in China, of his amazement at the beauty of these works of 
art, the preservation, is really something to read. I felt I 
had to go there, and so in the course of time I made a trip 
there. And this, of course, was the fulfillment of a wish, the 
hommage & mon cher professeur. 

Riess: The pieces he brought back, the sculpture, and the piece of the 
cave wall, did he put them into a collection? 

Caldwell: Oh, they were bought for Harvard. They are in the Fogg Museum. 
They were works of art that I looked at all the time I was a 
student there. 

Riess: How extensive was the Asian art collection at the Fogg? 

Caldwell: They had had some very fine bequests in the Asian field. 

Langdon Warner was a sort of adjunct curator. He was a lecturer 
in art history, but naturally anything Asian that was bought by 
the museum would be subject to his scrutiny, or his choice. 

Riess: Did the Fogg compete with the Boston Museum of Fine Arts? 

Caldwell: No. They were trying to acquire fine examples of Asian art in 
private holdings which they would like to have left to the 
museum. I don't think it was a competitive mattermaybe so, 
but I had never thought of it that way. They accepted, or 
probably sought out, but anyway, accepted gladly any 
distinguished collection that might be left to them. Some 
people prefer to leave their works of art to a university rather 
than to a city museum. But 1 didn't think it was ever very 

Riess: You went often to the Museum of Fine Arts? 


Caldwell: Oh yes, and at least twice a month our art history classes in 

Asian art would meet at the Boston Museum. This, of course, was 
a very impressive event for me because out in California we had 
nothing of high quality in Asian art. It opened my eyes to the 
fact that whereas San Franciscans had always talked about being 
"the gateway to the Orient," they had no examples at all of 
great works of art. And 1 think even back as a student I had 
the wish that sometime San Francisco could acquire a great 
collection. Never dreamingnobody had even heard of Mr. 
[Avery] Brundage, or the Brundage collection at that time. 

Riess: Did you meet other collectors when you were at Harvard? 

Caldwell: We were taken to private collections. But mostly the Boston 

Museum. You see, there are more examples of the works of Asian 
art from every country in the Boston Museum than any other place 
in the world. As far as Asian art was concerned, we didn't 
necessarily need to go to other private collections. In Western 
art, yes, a great many, and in Philadelphia and New York. 

Riess: You said you met [Ananda Kent] Coomaraswamy [collector of Indian 
painting and sculpture]? 

Caldwell: I met him at dinner at Langdon Warner's house. He was a 

formidable man. You were afraid to ask him a question because 
you probably wouldn't understand the answer. [laughs] 

I would like to mention the name of a scholar of Japanese 
art that I met who was a teacher [at Harvard] . His name was 
Soetsu Yanagi . Warner invited him from Japan, and he was in 
charge of folk art. I became very much interested in folk art. 

[looking at pictures and article about the history of the 
Museum of Fine Arts] These people, I knew who they were, but I 
didn't know them. Remember I was an undergraduate. Although I 
did have one graduate year under Paul Sachs , of course , who I 
knew very well. 

Riess: You made a check mark in this article next to the statement, 
"The late 12th Century hand scroll, 'Kibi's Adventures in 
China,' had been on the Japanese art market for some years..." 
What about that? 

Caldwell: Yes, that made such an impression on me, that scroll. It's a 
wonderful scroll. The Japanese were distracted by the 
Industrial Revolution and didn't hang onto their works of art at 
that time, and Boston was able to get these extraordinary works, 
marvelous things. 


Marriage, and Travel Time 

Riess: You were married in September of 1929. 

Caldwell: That's right. 

Riess: Jim continued at Wisconsin? 

Caldwell: No, he moved on to Harvard to get his Ph.D. So he was there 

[Cambridge] my senior year [KC received B.A. from Radcliffe in 
1928.] It might have been- -it had to be my senior year, because 
he was not there my junior year. Ve were married after that, 
after 1 got my bachelor's degree. Then we came back. He had a 
job as a teaching assistant, and we were there for two years. 

Riess: You had a period of travel in there, didn't you? 

Caldwell: Yes, that's right, after I graduated. I got my degree in the 
middle of the year, and I went over to Europe by myself for a 
short time. 

Riess: You went to Greece with the American Academy in Rome? 

Caldwell: That's true, yes, I did. I had taken a course in Greek 

archaeology at Harvard, and the professor said, "Well, if you're 
going abroad, be sure to get in touch with the American Academy 
in Rome. I'll give you an introduction." They go to Greece 
every April. Mostly they take students who are enrolled in the 
academy, but if they have any vacant places and you have a 
recommendation, academic one, they'll take you. He said, "The 
minute you get to Naples, telephone--" which I did. I then went 
to Rome and Joined the group going to Greece. 

It cost two hundred dollars for the entire month. I went 
for something like three weeks in Greece. From Italy, traveling 
all over Greece and back again, all for $200 a month, including 
transportation to and from Italy to Greece. [laughs] On a 
cattle ship, to be sure. Or no, it was another kind of 
animal- -goats I guess they were. 

Master's Degree: Paul Sachs, and Consequences for San Francisco 

Riess: In your undergraduate work at Radcliffe had you become 
acquainted with the museum program at the Fogg? 








Oh, that was not until 1 came back for my master's degree that I 
took the first course in the United States on museums and 
history of museums, the conditions under which objects should be 
kept in museums. It was kind of an overall survey of museum 

Paul Sachs taught that course? 

Yes. I didn't care for him at all as a person, although he was 
very, very able in what he did. He had been connected with 
Goldman Sachs, a big investment firm in New York City. I guess 
maybe he was attached to it by family rather than having 
actually worked there, because he kept telling us, "Make a 
decision. Either you go in for teaching or you go in for 
business. You cannot mix the two." 

All of that changed later. R.E. Lewis in San Francisco, 
who is in Mar in County now, who deals in prints, probably knows 
more about prints than anybody else , or as much as anybody else , 
and he's considered just as reputable as a university professor. 
But in that day, the idea was you never can go into teaching if 
you've ever been in trade. And he made this great point. 

Museum science, what is that considered to be? 
spectrum is it? 

Which end of the 

Oh, if you're a professional it's like being a college 
professor, to go into museum work. 

But in fact, you often end up being an administrator. 

But you're not buying and selling objects. That's the important 
thing, you see. The idea is, if you're in trade you might be 
tempted to sell something to a museum that wasn't as valuable as 
purported to be, something like that. 

Sachs was very wealthy, and he had a beautiful house on 
Shady Hill in Cambridge, and that's where he had his graduate 
students meet. I was very glad to have taken the course, but I 
had a very unfortunate experience , very unfortunate for San 

At the time, the Legion of Honor in San Francisco had a 
succession of unsuccessful museum directors. Two of them, a 
husband and wife, had been dope fiends, as well as people that 
just were incompetent. I, all full of excitement and crusading 
zeal, wrote my stepfather, "You know, they train people here to 
be museum directors." 


So when they wanted to get rid of somebody in the Legion of 
Honor, Pops, who knew everybody, said to Mortimer Fleishhacker 
or whoever it was, Herbert Fleishhacker, president of the Arts 
Commission in San Francisco, "My daughter's right at Harvard 
where they can find somebody to replace him." Veil, that man, I 
regret to say, was gay, though we didn't have that term for them 

Anyhow, he had come from Oakland, and he was at Harvard, 
and he was head of the tutors there, and they wanted to get rid 
of him, not because he was homosexual, but because he was making 
problems. 1 didn't know any of that. So when the delegation 
came from San Francisco, and I introduced them to Mr. Sachs, and 
they made a deal, Mr. Sachs unloaded this man on San Francisco, 
and he was an absolute disaster. [See more on this story, p. 

It was one of the most disillusioning experiences in my 
life. 1 was so full of zeal and happiness about being a liaison 
between Harvard and San Francisco, and it was an absolute, 
absolute fiasco. And so that was a bad result of having taken 
the museum course . 

Riess: Was Grace Morley at the Fogg when you were there? 

Caldwell: Oh, no, I never knew her until years and years later. I never 
knew her, until she came to Berkeley. She came much later. 

Riess: I was wondering if you had met her at the Fogg. 

Caldwell: Oh, no. I didn't meet her until much later, in San Francisco. 
She was married to a professor here. 

Asian Art Studies 

Caldwell: I was definitely drawn to Asian art in a way 1 wasn't to any 
other civilization. 

Riess : Did you learn a language? 

Caldwell: Oh, that's an interesting thing. Of course, I thought I should. 
You can't imagine how astonished and almost incredulous young 
people are today when I tell them this, but do you know, at 
Harvard at that time you were not allowed to study Chinese or 
Japanese as a language unless you were specializing in the 
language itself. 





They said "Chinese and Japanese, unlike any other 
languages, are so difficult that you can't possibly have two 
disciplines --history and Japanese, history and Chinese." In 
other words, their idea was if you were in art history, and you 
wanted to know what somebody in China or Japan had written, you 
got someone to translate it for you, rather than learning the 
language and then translating it yourself. And indeed Japanese 
is more difficult than any language in the world; that's a fact. 
Much harder than Chinese in terms of structure. 

Then when the Second World War came and they started having 
these saturation courses for military purposes the whole 
attitude changed, and the need for having specialists in the 
language was so great that that's the reason almost all the 
scholars that we have now in universities teaching in Asian 
fields are veterans of the Second World War. They were sent to 
these specialized schools, and then they were so equipped with 
the language, they wanted to use it. Or else they were so 
enamored of it. 

James Cahill is an example, one of the great specialists in 
Chinese art in the world. To be sure, he was learning Japanese, 
and then later learned Chinese, but he's an outstanding example 
of this phenomenon. 

In any event, you didn't get an opportunity. 

No, I didn't. And of course, this was a great handicap later 
on, because a few years later everybody assumed that if you were 
in the Asian field you knew either Chinese or Japanese or 
preferably both. I tried to learn Japanese at one time. But it 
really takes such dedication; you just have to saturate yourself 
in it for years in order to do it. 

I have a friend who's in art history. She got her 
doctorate at New York University, which is one of the best 
places for Asian art. I met her in Kyoto. She had been there 
for two years studying the language. We went to the theater. 
She couldn't understand what the man said who announced the 
change in the personnel, and she couldn't read the program. 

She must have been fit to be tied. 

No, she accepted that in her own little narrow field of Japanese 
she knew she could do something, and otherwise not. It's highly 

Charles Erskine Scott Wood, Sara Bard Field, Katherine Field Caldwell, and James R. 
Caldwell on the Caldwell 's wedding day at The Cats, 1929. 

Photograph by Ansel Adams 

Kay, Sara, Jim, "Pops", and Robinson Jeffers at Tor House, Carmel, 
circa 1932. 



A Job. A First Home, and A Visitor. Ella Young 

Riess: In 1929 you received your M.A. in fine arts at Radcliffe College 
[Harvard], and the two of you came out here in 1930. Was there 
a consideration on Jim's part of taking a job anywhere other 
than Berkeley? 

Caldwell: No, I think not. Of course, Mother and Pops were very anxious 
we should be out here. I don't know what fine recommendations 
he had on the part of people in California, like Ben Lehman- -of 
course he was interviewed by someone who had never heard of him 
or knew him, so that was objective. But the whole idea of his 
being interested in coming to Berkeley was because Mother and 
Pops really wanted us out here. 

Certainly he couldn't just be taken in by influence. It 
was not a situation like Dominican College had been; this is a 
big university with very high standards, and he had to be chosen 
very objectively. But the fact that he wanted to come to 
Berkeley was really because Mother and Pops wanted us so badly. 

Riess: Did they find a place for you to live? How did you start out? 

Caldwell: When we came out here, the man that built the house for them in 
Los Gatos, Walter Steilberg, he had a house overlooking the 
stadium, in that area just slightly south of the campus. He was 
building some little experimental houses, experimental from the 
point of view of the materials he was using, cement blocks. He 
built one right behind his house, off of Panoramic Way- -also off 
of a lane, we always seem to live in inaccessible places- -that' s 
where we lived. We were the first occupants of this new house. 

Riess: What address was that? 


Caldwell: Number One, Orchard Lane. [By September 1931 that house was 
renumbered and addressed: Number 4, Mossvood Lane. JRKK] 

It was a very, very beautiful little house, very small. 
Ella Young visited us there, the Irish folklorist. Do you know 
about Ella Young? She was a very famous person in her time. A 
woman named Padrian McGillicuddy down in southern California is 
doing a book on her right now. She comes to see me every now 
and then. 

Riess: Ella Young visited because she was a friend of Jim's? 

Caldwell: Oh, no. Ella Young was a friend of Noel Sullivan, and whether 
it was through Ben Lehman that Noel knew her, I don't know. 
Noel, always a willing person to cooperate in cultural affairs, 
paid for her to be what we now call a Regent's professor, but it 
wasn't that concept then. An adjunct professor maybe. I don't 
know how long that expression's been used either. Anyway, she 
wasn't a tenured, regular, ongoing faculty member, but she had 
courses, and Noel Sullivan funded this, although of course again 
it had to go through proper academic critical consideration, 

She was here for quite a while, and she was the most 
spellbinding person. She had the most [imitating] "loovely" 
voice you can imagine, just lilting. And she had a magic effect 
on groups. She never raised her voice, she had a very low 
voice. But there might be a party with thirty- five or forty 
people, and little by little, they all clustered at her feet to 
hear these marvelous Irish folktales that she'd tell. 

She actually believed in magic, and she believed that a 
creature named Gilpin was her tease. She really believed if she 
couldn't find her glasses, that Gilpin had moved them from one 
place to another and hidden them from her. I remember once she 
was our houseguest in this little house of Steilberg. A door 
creaked downstairs. "Oh," she said, "Gilpin' s there." And she 
believed it! 

And once at one of these huge gatherings at some large 
house in Berkeley, everybody was clustered around- -young people 
would sit at her feet- -and there was an enormous grand piano 
across the room, and all of a sudden, nobody being near it, one 
of the notes sounded. We had been listening to her tales, you 
know, of magic, and we were all--. What had happened was that 
there was a candle, and wax had fallen on the key. Of course, 
not from her point of view. That was one of her "little 
people." [laughs] 


Riess: She stayed with you? 

Caldwell: She just stayed with us a short time. We were very fond of her. 

Riess: That was an interesting part of town, where you were living. 

Caldwell: Yes, it was, but the stadium had been built long before then, 
and on football game days you had to have a permit to get 
through the police that would not allow cars up the hill, to 
prove that you lived there. An awfully nice house just above 
that one came on the market, and we thought of renting it, but 
we couldn't bear to live in that area because of the football 

Riess: How long did you stay there? 

Caldwell: I don't remember how long we were there, though of course I 
could figure it out [1930-1932]. Actually we were forced to 
move when I was pregnant with Sara, and we needed a bigger 
house. And then we did something--. I don't know what other 
young people who lived on such a small income did, but we liked 
room, and of course we couldn't afford to buy a house, and we 
couldn't afford to rent a house with a lot of room, so we would 
rent a house that was for sale, and we'd get one with four 
bedrooms in a nice area. But of course we had to move when it 
was sold. And we did that several times. 

Riess: And you could afford that. 

Caldwell: Yes. Fifty dollars a month for a four-bedroom house in a nice 

Ben 1am in Lehman. "Bull" Durham, the Bronsons and the Clines 

Riess: Who were your first really good Berkeley friends? 

Caldwell: Oh, Ben Lehman, and I'll tell you, Willard Durham, whom we 
called "Bull." He was wonderful to us. Bull Durham on the 
faculty was nicer to us than anybody else, and he told us where 
to buy good cheeses and wines cheaply, and so on. And he loved 
young people. Do you have an oral history on him? 

Riess: No. 

Caldwell: Oh, no, you couldn't. I don't think the concept of the oral 
history had come into being before he died. 


Riess: How much older were they than you, Lehman and Durham? 

Caldwell: Oh, a lot. Bull particularly was much older. He was old enough 
to be our father, or more. But we adored him, and he Just loved 
all young people. He took them under his wing when they came 

Riess: And friends on Panoramic Way? 

Caldwell: No, we didn't I don't think that's ever been true. Peopleyou 
know your immediate neighbors maybe, but we didn't stay there 
all that long. Of course, we knew the Steilbergs very well. We 
were just right in their back yard. 

Riess: And Helena Steilberg, was she there? 

Caldwell: Oh, she was so much younger then. Just a very little girl. 

Helena's quite a character. I'm very fond of her. But I didn't 
know her then except as a little girl. 

Riess: When you became part of the English department the people who 
really reached out to you were Ben Lehman and Durham? 

Caldwell: Well, I would say Bull Durham more, and a little later on Ben 

I must say that at that time, even though relative to other 
departments the English department was enormous, nevertheless 
the attitude then was, everyone tried to entertain newcomers, so 
we met a great many of the established professors in their 
private homes. That doesn't happen any more. Josephine Miles 
was very bitter about that later on, because she used to 
entertain so much, and she would say, "You know, someone who's 
been at my house for dinner, some young professor, doesn't even 
say hello on campus . " 

But in those days you were welcomed at small dinners. Of 
course, people had cocktail parties, but the small dinner party 
was really the way you became acquainted and entertained your 
friends. You didn't try for anything fancy. You had no- -at 
least we didn't- -sense of having to keep up with a higher 
standard of living than we could afford. And people helped on 
the dishes, and that kind of thing. 

Riess: In Ben Lehman's oral history he talks of sitting at the dinner 
tables of people of great social prominence, and he talks very 
interestingly about the art of the dinner party. 


Caldvell: Veil, he lived in San Francisco as much as he lived here, his 
social life, you know. 

At first I was very melancholy when I would go around, 
without being immediately conscious of why I felt so depressed. 
I started to try to analyze it, and I'd realize it would be 
passing houses or places that I had unpleasant memories of, or 
something. And the Baptist church at Dana and Haste, always to 
this day I feel very, very depressed when I pass the Baptist 
church where I was obliged to go to prayer meetings and Sunday 
services and so on. 

But on the other hand, you see, the English department 
then, there was a certain little group within the 
department --this probably happens in all universities --that was 
especially bound together, and we were taken in to this group 
right away. Did you ever do an oral history on Professor 

Riess: No. 

Caldwell: Oh, such a wonderful man. And Jim Cline, and a certain little 
coterie, you might say. And because of Jim, of course, 
they- -when I say "we" were taken in, it was of course men that 
were attracted to one another, and the wives happened to like 
each other, too. So we had made friends very quickly within the 
department, and they were our closest friends. Many of them 
were our own age . 

See, Ben and Bull Durham were the only ones of the older 
generation that we were very close to. I remember now that 
Walter Morris Hart was the one who interviewed Jim for his Job 
here. I think he came to Harvard and interviewed him there, if 
I'm not mistaken. And of course, he and his wife were very much 
older, and very, very conventional. 

The Walter Morris Harts. T.S. Eliot, and Social Mores 

Caldwell: The reason I'm smiling is, it was a long time before I met Mrs. 
Hart. Somehow or other I met him. Whether she was away or ill 
I don't know. One of our colleagues gave a costume party, and 
Jim and I went, he as a nursemaid and I as a baby in a baby 
carriage. And I had a bottle, but of course it had wine in it 
instead of milk. And under those circumstances, I met Mrs. 
Walter Morris Hart, sitting in this silly baby carriage 
[laughing], holding a bottle. I was so embarrassed. 


Later on we were entertained there, and one of my most 
painful memories was a dinner there for T.S. Eliot, only a tiny 
party. And oh! this Is when I wondered why we ever came back to 
Berkeley. First of all, they did not refill the women's wine 
glasses, only the men's. But that was not all. After dinner, 
the men went to Professor Hart's study and did not return until 
we went home . 

1 was in tears when I came home . 1 had grown up in a 
family where there was no separation of the sexes after dinner, 
and where women were considered the intellectual equals of men, 
and here we were- -I felt utterly downgraded. 1 remember just 
crying and crying and crying, 1 was so disappointed. 1 had 
wanted to see more of T.S. Eliot too, you know. I thought, what 
kind of a world is this that we've come into? 

Later on, of course, many, many, many years later, my 
mother and Walter Morris Hart formed a very cordial , warm 
relationship. He proposed to her, actually, when she was in her 
eighties. Of course, she did not accept this. But they used to 
have literary lunches, and they had a long correspondence. I 
have quantities of letters in the other room, it's incredible. 

Riess: Did Jim understand your feelings? 

Caldwell: I think he understood, but he had lots of adjusting himself to 
do here, you know, courses to prepare and so on. 

Jim I think was more cooperative about my working than any 
husband I can imagine of his day. But 1 don't think he could 
imagine the isolation that a woman who had been brought up in an 
intellectual environment felt when she was suddenly a housewife. 
This was before I actually had established myself over at the 
museum in San Francisco. 

When I got a job he couldn't have been more understanding 
and more helpful. And also raising the children. Then again, 
there was a period of course when I wanted to stay home for a 
certain number of months after each child was born, but again, 1 
felt that intellectual distance from stimulating groups. He'd 
tell me about all these wonderful lunches on campus with his 
colleagues. The professors meet around a table, you know, at 
lunch all the time, in every department. 

I felt very cut off from what was going on in the world, 
and I would be pretty envious of that stimulation, until 1 went 
back to work. 

Riess: Was Section Club stimulating? 


Caldvell: I don't know if stimulating is the word. Ve joined the drama 
group from the beginning. At that time, 1 never acted in them, 
but Jim Just loved them, and he was awfully good at any kind of 
part, whether it was a butler or a king, it didn't matter. I 
think anybody that likes acting feels that way; they don't 
really necessarily want a big part. 

Riess: The Bronson-Cline wives, did they feel the way you did? 

Caldwell: No. I don't think so. But then, they weren't brought up the 
way I was. They're wonderful people, you understand. Mildred 
Bronson is still living. She was ninety last year, and her 
birthday's coming up very soon. I must remember it, in 

Riess: You weren't at the point in your own development of walking 
across the floor and flinging open the door and saying, "I'm 
going to spend this evening with Mr. Eliot too!" 

Caldwell: Oh, no- -oh, heavens, no! Oh, heavens, you couldn't imagine! I 
wouldn't have dreamed- -it would never have entered my head to 
make any protest at the time. Only when 1 got home and wept. 

I just loved the wives of the English department people, 
but they had entirely- -they didn't mind being just wives. I was 
not used to the separation of the sexes, socially. I was 
criticized for sort of joining in men's conversations. But 
really it was only at the Harts' that the men did that. I don't 
think that ever happened again. They [the Walter Morris Harts] 
belonged to an entirely different social--! hate to say, not 
quite class, but followed very conventional social mores, 
whereas most of the University people didn't do that. 

Riess: What about Benjamin Lehman, if he gave a dinner party? 

Caldwell: Oh, no, he didn't do that. After all, he did marry Judith 
Anderson. But most women preferred to talk about domestic 
affairs, so that though they weren't separated after dinner 
physically in a different room, they more or less clustered 
together, and talked about the best bargains here and so on 
there. 1 was not as interested in those topics. [laughs] 


The Denneses and the Rosses 

Riess: According to your resume, in 1930 you were a lecturer at the 

Legion of Honor. Would faculty wives, like Mrs. Walter Morris 
Hart, have seen you as a career woman? 

Caldwell: Oh, no. 1 was in the category of faculty wife, so far as the 
women at the University were concerned. That's the role I was 
expected to play. But I was very young and had no idea of that. 
1 grew up in quite a different atmosphere , where faculty people 
and people of any kind of intellectual background were all mixed 

Riess: Were there faculty wives who right away you found a kind of 
rapport with? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. I did indeed. The Denneses. Will Dennes was in the 
philosophy department, and his wife, Margaret Dennes, was an 
extremely intellectual woman. And of course there were women in 
the faculty wives group who shared intellectual interests, and 
artistic ones. But Margaret Dennes and Will Dennes were just 
remarkable . 

And then we were very fond of the Edward Tolmans , very 
fond. Mrs. Tolman, who had graduated from Radcliffe, and was 
part of the local chapter of the Radcliffe Club, became a very, 
very close friend. She was a person I greatly admired. Oh, 
there were a number of women. The Uhipples, I was crazy about 
the Whipples, T.K. Whipple and his wife, Mary Ann. These were 
all people that we just loved. 

Then when it came to--. I suppose we could call it a 
clique, although we never thought of it that way, never thought 
of ourselves as exclusive. But we were taken right into a small 
group of people that originally, before our arrival from 
Cambridge, had met together socially and more or less 
informally. That was Professor and Mrs. Bronson, and Jim Cline, 
and John and Nancy Ross. 

Riess: That's a name I don't know, Ross. 

Caldwell: Really? Well, it was a tragic thing, what happened about him. 
John and his wife were delightful people, had a lovely little 
house up on Woodmont Avenue. John was a very peculiar 
personality, and he could become, let's say, offbeat in what he 
had to say on one glass of sherry. He didn't get along with the 
chairman of the English department, and they had another, what 
they considered "problem" man down at UCLA, and they exchanged 


them. These charming people that we just loved were forced to 
leave Berkeley. But he was a rather eccentric and delightful 

Riess: These were people from Harvard? 

Caldwell: Bud Bronson I think was Yale, but I'm not sure. Nancy Ross 1 
think had gone to another women's college, maybe Vassar or 
something like that. Anyway, they were from the East Coast, 
Nancy and John Ross were. I don't know where the Clines came 
from. Actually, Jim had married someone who was a nurse, and 
was a charming, nice woman, but not part of that intellectual 

But this was a very, very special group, and they had a 
wonderful sense of humor. We would go on trips together in the 
summer in the Sierra, also, camping. There was lots of 
conversation, and lots of merriment. Wonderful sense of humor 
everybody had. Very bright. 

Riess: The English department then seems like a pretty intense group of 
people, a lot of rivalries and factions. 

Caldwell: I suppose there were a lot of rivalries and factions. I was 
just more aware of the small, congenial group. Though I met 
other people in the department, and there was one faculty wife, 
an older one quite older, Morris Hart's generation- -I'm ashamed 
I can't think of her name, I'll dig it out of my memory at some 
point. They were very much concerned about us. 

We thought we couldn't afford to live in a "nice" 
house- -nice in the sense of East Bay hills- -and we were thinking 
of renting a house down in West Berkeley. This faculty wife 
took me aside very carefully, gave me quite a talk about how it 
would not be an area to raise children in. We didn't have any 
children, of course, yet. But anyway, it would not be a proper 
area to raise children in, and we must surely find a place to 
live in the East Bay hills. 

Riess: The question of where you send your children to school, and 
whether to live in West Berkeley or not, was that a racial 

Caldwell: It was more economic. It was a very poor area, and therefore 
notpeople hadn't the advantage of education, not an educated 
area. The blacks came in after the Second World War. 

Riess: Faculty sent their children to the Berkeley schools? 


Caldwell: Oh, yes. Up there on Le Roy Avenue, when I was a girl, some 

neighbors of mine went to a private school, but not very many. 
Almost everyone sent their children to the Berkeley public 
schools, because they were very good at that time, very good. 
And my children, too, went to the Berkeley public schools, with 
the exception that briefly my daughter went to the Anna Head 
School, but not very long. 

Jim Caldwell *s Academic 


Riess: In the In Memoriam biography of Jim Caldwell [published in 

1966], I read that he was full professor in 1946, "a student of 
Medieval Latin, of Gothic, and Old Norse." 

Caldwell: He wrote a book on John Keats, however. Nineteenth -century 

Romantic poetry was an attraction for him. But he had gotten 
into Medieval studies at Harvard, and picked it up again later. 

Riess: And his "effort to make of the Extension Division a more 

effective and far-reaching instrument for the realization of his 
ideal," what was that about? 

Caldwell: That was much, much later, towards the end of his life. He 

didn't approve of some of the principles by which the Extension 
Division was run, and he wanted to have it- -he felt that too 
much money was being spent on it. I'm not altogether clear, to 
tell you the truth, on his attitude toward the Extension 
Division, and I was not very much interested in the Extension 
Division myself. 

I think academically, he felt it watered down the 
standards, and that too much money was being diverted to it- -I 
think. Now, I may be wrong about that. This was so much later 
in his life, really very, very late in his life, a short few 
years before he died, that he got interested in that problem. 
The Extension Division, I never could quite understand why he 
was quite so involved in it, so I'm not a very good source of 
information about that. 

Riess: The In Memoriam statement was written by Charles Muscatine, and 
Professors Bronson and Cline, and it picks up on these various 
themes . 

Caldwell: Yes, yes. Well, of course, he was devoted--! can't remember how 
early he became associated with the ACLU, but that was a long 
association, and he was on the local board for a long time, and 


eventually on the national board, too. He was absolutely 
faithful to the meetings, and he felt very strongly. So that 
was one of the reasons why the loyalty oath situation was 
particularly crucial in his life. 

Riess: Did he get started with the ACLU through the relationship with 

Caldwell: Well, also, my mother and stepfather had been on it from almost 
the beginning. I can't remember, though, exactly how he 
happened to be asked to be on the board. It could have been 
through Helen Salz, a wonderful woman. I'm not exactly sure at 
what point, and through what particular individual, he became 
attached to the civil liberties, but it was quite early on and 

Riess: And what did he bring to the Civil Liberties Union? 

Caldwell: Well, he was interested, like Meiklejohn, in the First 

Amendment, in the speech situation. 1 think that was the chief 
focus . 

Riess: And conscientious objector status? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, conscientious objector, that's right, that is true. 
And then later on, of course, the loyalty oath. 

Friendship with Mr. Shiota 

Riess: Were these issues that troubled him a lot, or could he 
compartmentalize and go on with his academic work? 

Caldwell: I don't know what to say. Yes, he was very serious about these 
things. Trouble? It didn't keep him awake at night, no. But 
the loyalty oath later on did. That was a frightful thing. 

But the question of conscientious objection, it might 
interest you to know that he was also on the Draft Board. Maybe 
his colleagues didn't realize that. He was on the Draft Board 
during the Second World War. And he was interested in the 
conscientious objectors at that time, too. He had a dual 

Riess: Jim volunteered to be on the Draft Board? 


Caldwell: Yes, I think that was a volunteer thing, I'm sure it was. He 

greatly believed in that war. I guess that's the only one that 
people of ordinary pacifistic temperaments could accept. I 
mean, after all, Hitler and the Jewish situation was so 
appalling. He really believed in that war. So did my mother 
and stepfather. 

I was Just astonished, because I held out for my pacifism 
for a long, long time. [laughs] There was always a pacifist 
group at the University, too. I think Kathleen Tolman was 
interested in that --wonderful woman. You know, she was the wife 
of the man who took the lead in fighting the loyalty oath, 
Edward Tolman. 

Actually, at the time he was on the Draft Board I had a 
very dear, elderly Japanese friend who was in the art trade, Mr. 
Shiota. He had the finest shop on Grant Avenue. He dealt in 
Chinese works of art, particularly Chinese bronzes. Because he 
was born in Japan, was not a citizen, he was put in a prison 
camp rather than in a so-called relocation center. I sent him 
some fruit, and the other members of the Draft Board accused Jim 
of not being a loyal citizen, or his wife's not being a loyal 
citizen, sending a present to the enemy. 

Jim was very angry about that, and he insisted that an 
investigation be made in print of this Japanese friend, Mr. 
Shiota, and he was utterly cleared. And Jim wanted me to be 
cleared, and he also wanted his own reputation as my spouse to 
be cleared. 

The rest of that story is that the great Chinese bronzes 
were impounded by the government, and I went over to the bank to 
see what was happening to those bronzes that were impounded, in 
the very beginning of this terrible fury against the Japanese, 
and the man at the bank said, "You're the first person who has 
had anything good to say about any Japanese." He wasn't hostile 
toward me, but just, "How can you do this?" This made a great 
impression on them. 

Riess: Going back, had your mother and Colonel Wood friends in the 
Asian community? 

Caldwell: Just mostly Chinese, except for Mr. Shiota. My stepfather used 
to spend a lot of time wandering around Chinatown, and feeling 
sorry for the poor business conditions, and therefore buying 
things that we didn't need. Much to my mother's distress, he 
was always buying something. After he died there were probably 
lots of things he paid for and never picked up. But yes, we had 
quite a number of connections. All through these art stores, 


rather than through intellectual sources. Nothing to do with 
academia, or literature. 

1 was impressed at Berkeley High with the fact that we had 
Oriental companions , although there were very few blacks , and 
that was not until Vorld War 11 when the government brought in 
hundreds of blacks for Richmond, into the industrial plants. 1 
was very apprehensive about the Japanese children- -Hearst had 
these terrible blasts against them. 1 was ill at ease with 
them, 1 didn't know what to say. When 1 think of the Japanese 
friends 1 have now, and my many trips to Japan! 

And then after the Second Vorld Var was over Jim and 1 
would never take a student helper into the house except a 
Japanese -American. One of the most remarkable students I ever 
had living here was a Japanese -American. He was here for three 
years, and almost like our son. Marvelous person. 

Riess: Odd that you would have been uncomfortable with them. They were 
such a minority, and white Americans are such a majority. 

Caldwell: I know. I didn't feel an aversion to them at all, just not 

knowing how to communicate. Even though they spoke English, of 
course, because they were born here. 

At the time of the evacuation, a terrible thing happened in 
my daughter's class at school. My daughter was in elementary 
school, something like eight or nine years old. Their favorite 
student in the class was a Japanese -American. They got a cake 
and ice cream for the farewell party for her, and in the midst 
of the party the principal came in and said it had come down 
from the superintendent of schools that no aliens- -no Japanese 
were to be honored. These eight and nine -year olds, they were 
angry and they were all in tears. Isn't that terrible, to take 
that out on a child! 

On the other hand, 1 have to speak with great, great 
admiration for some of the Christian churches here. The 
Congregational Church, I remember, just turned over the church 
to counsel in helping these people. And people were taking in 
treasures that belonged to the Japanese to house them for the 
duration. [pauses] I feel very emotional about this. By this 
time --this was much later than my high school experience--! had 
made friends with Japanese people that were dear, dear friends. 


Ben Lehman's Circle, and Wives Judith Anderson and Henrietta 

Riess: Benjamin Lehman was a decade older than Jim? 

Caldwell: Oh, even more, I think. He seemed to us very much a senior- -not 
a senior citizen, but established. After all, he was a full 
professor, you know. Those distinctions were very crucial to 
young people at that time. 

Riess: Was he imposing and self-important? 
Caldwell: Oh, yes, he always was very self-important. 

1 don't think I'm a very good person to evaluate Ben, 
because 1 was one of the few people that was critical of him, 
and everybody else thought he was wonderful. 

Riess: Why were you critical of him? 

Caldwell: Because of his attitude toward women in the University. He 
didn't think there should be any women in the English 
department. I got off on the wrong foot with him at lunch the 
first time I met him by saying, "It's too bad there aren't more 
women." He said, "Oh, no. Men would never enroll in classes 
run by women." And I thought that was terrible. 

My mother, of course, he admired, and she, heaven knows, 
has had a career, and would certainly have- -I wasn't as gracious 
as my mother in handling these controversial topics. I'm afraid 
I met him head-on. 

Riess: Did Benjamin Lehman set a social tone? What was that lunch? 

Caldwell: That was when he had the house up on Mosswood Road. It was a 

house with Marion Parsons that he was so fond of, such a lovely 
woman, oh, she was a wonderful person. And it was there, as I 
remember, that I first saw him, and I think it was at that 
luncheon that I expressed my dismay that there were no women in 
the English department. But somehow or other, our chemistry 
just didn't mix. 

Riess: When he married Judith Anderson, how was she as a faculty wife? 

Caldwell: Oh, she was marvelous. 

Riess: Where was she in her career at the time when she married? 


Caldvell: I have no idea. I feel so embarrassed not to be able to tell 

you more, but I was really pretty absorbed in my own world, you 
know, of art, and I also had to prepare talks and do a lot of 
background work for this , and run my house . Because I was very 
good at being a good housewife, in the sense of good meals and 
organization. And I delegated the cleaning, as I've said 
earlier, to somebody else. 

But anyway, because we all entertained one another at that 
time, and welcomed people, we welcomed Ben's new wife. So we 
had a little dinner party. I was always the cook, of course; 
when 1 say have a dinner party, 1 don't mean it was catered or 
anything. We all did it; we lived on a shoestring, and we did 
our own work. 

I kind of dreaded entertaining them, because I thought she 
was going to be this grande dame, but she couldn't have been 
nicer. She was just folksy and human- -dear. 1 just was 
pleasantly surprised at how nice she was, and that was that. 

Did I tell you the episode about wanting to buy Ben's 
house? Jim and I were very fond of the Tamalpais Road area, and 
the house we'd rented there for some time --which the [Robert 
Gordon] Sprouls eventually bought, by the way. We didn't buy it 
because it didn't get any winter sun. But Ben's house we 
thought was just perfect, and when he said he wanted to sell it, 
we approached him about it, and he agreed. 

We had gotten to the point where we even measured the rooms 
and rugs and furniture, and one morning we came down to pick up 
the paper, and underneath the paper was a little note from Ben 
saying, "I cannot part with the house in which I have lived with 
Judith Anderson." And we were absolutely stunned! We were just 
heartbroken about not getting that house. That was it! 

1 know that that one time when he had that house- -and he 
was a very fine gardener- -some neighbor saw him walking around 
in the garden and said, "I don't think there's anybody in 
Berkeley that's more lonely than Ben Lehman." So that must have 
been a time when he had no wife. 

Riess: When he married Henriette Durham, did they live in Berkeley at 

Caldwell: No, they didn't. When she was married to Bull Durham, they did. 
And that was very amusing, because Bull had a small house up 
near Grizzly Peak, in that area. It was a small house, and then 
he married Henriette and they had to have a bigger house. He 
always said that his was Just the tail, then, on this main house 


[laughs]. They lived there quite a little while, 
entertained there. 

Ve used to be 

But no, Ben went down to Saratoga when he married 
Henriette. Someone said the other day, someone that knew 
Henriette very well, said that she could never bear to be alone, 
just couldn't bear to be alone. That's interesting to me, 
because I am a great admirer of Henriette, I think she's one of 
the most remarkable women I ever knew. 

Riess : Where did she come from? 

Caldwell: I don't really know, except that we were told- -you know, these 
things can be rumors- -that she was one of the wealthiest women 
in the state of California. The reason- -well, this may just be 
folklore- -the reason she was so wealthy was because she had so 
many maiden aunts who had died and left their money to her. 
Now, whether that's true or not I have no idea. 

A Storv About Muriel Rukeyser 

Caldwell: Henriette and my mother became very great friends. The thing 
about Henriette was she was enormously generous, but she was 
always anonymous. I'm told- -again, this is probably an 
exaggeration- -that if the symphony or the opera had a deficit 
they'd appeal to her and she'd pick up the tab. Now, to what 
extent--. Anyway, she never wanted to be given credit for her 

She and my mother were allied in the support of --turn that 
off Just a minute, I must think of her name. [pauses] Muriel 
Rukeyser. My mother and Henriette decided to finance this woman 
through her pregnancy. And you can imagine years ago this was 
something! They insisted that she must have a ring when she was 
in the hospital, or the nurses would not like it. So they 
financed this . 

For years and years and years, Muriel would not say who was 
the father of this child. It was a boy, turned out to be very 
successful, 1 think in Journalism [William L. Rukeyser]. 
Anyway, she decided to tell who the father was, and you'll just 
never believe it! It was one of Robinson Jeffers's sons. She 
said they had "a toss in the hay" after a cocktail party. 
That's what I heard. 

Riess: [laughs] That's a great story! 


You said Henrietta and your mother were friends? 

Caldwell: Yes, down at Los Gatos. Henriette lived nearby, in Saratoga. 

We used to see a lot of her. Jim and I used to go over and swim 
at the pool at Henrietta's place, and we became very good 
friends. And later Jim, because of the friendship with Albert 
Elkus, was on the board of the Conservatory of Music in San 
Francisco, and he saw a lot of Henriette that way. And of 
course, when she was married to Bull here in Berkeley, we saw a 
lot of her. 

Riess: So at first she was down there, and then married Durham here. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. She had her children by a man named Goodrich, and then 
subsequently married Bull, and then after that, married Ben. Ve 
were at the marriage of her daughter Carol, my husband and I, in 
the house down in Saratoga. 

Riess: These people are almost larger than life, really. 

Caldwell: [laughs] Yes. Muriel Rukeyser was a great friend of Marie 
Welch-West. She and my mother were very close friends. 

Una and Robinson Jeffers. and a Letter. 1929 

Riess: Please tell me about the poem that you found when you found the 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, I wrote it for my mother's birthday, September 1, 1925. 
Riess: Would you read it? 
Caldwell: You read it. 

Riess: "Because you always tried to penetrate/ The intricacies of our 
little minds/ Inquisitively tense, insatiate;/ Destroyed the 
taunting terrors ignorance binds/ Us with; created fairy worlds 
never betrayed/ The whispered confidences shyly made. /Loved our 
companionship nor sought to hide/ Earth's cycle birth and death, 
identified/ Yourself with each maturing mood,/ Yours no outgrown 
indifferent gratitude . " 

Caldwell: [laughs] Pretty bad. 

Here, this is a lovely letter I got from Una Jeffers. It's 
about not coming to my wedding. It was written from 


Cornwall --November 13, 1929. I was married on the first of 

"Kay, my dear. Do accept our loving wishes for your 
happiness even if so belated in their expression. Char 
thoughts have turned to you often and often. Now I am 
hearing from many people of the exquisite beauty of your 
wedding and of your radiant self. Just yesterday a letter 
from Ben Lehman caught us at [Zennor?] and he was lyrical 
about it all. Sara and Erskine and their home and life 
have become to many of us a symbol of love and beauty and 
these gracious amenities which make one forget the bitter 
harsh thing life can be. One loves living thinking of 
them. I think you were lucky indeed to be married, from 
their house, surrounded by their love. 

"I am enclosing a photograph of Caldwell Tower which may 
interest you if your Jim's family is Scotch. It has been 
until recently in the Caldwell family since it was built in 
the XV Century. There is an old book of annals of the 
family Muir (or Mure) of Caldwell telling most thrilling 
history of it. Our connection with it is this: A relative 
of mine, by marriage, owns a little house near there and we 
stayed with her (Renfrewshire, Scotland). A year ago she 
acquired this tower which stands alone on a high hill near 
her (and beneath it the road and the spot where Queen Mary 
halted after the battle of Langside) . She is restoring it 
inside to its original shape, finding secret closets and 
niches and so on, getting the fireplaces cleaned out. 
Robin, the boys and I had a delightful time about it. The 
excrescence on the side is temporary, a storm porch to 
enable her to get to the upper parlor or bower during the 
winter when the wind and swirling hail and snow sweep one 
off his feet. A better thing is to be [designed?]. The 
other sides have more windows. 

"We have had so happy and thrilling a time over here, 
questing after those beautiful ancient, inexplicable Round 
Towers in Ireland, then careening all over Scotland during 
the gorgeous September weather, gazing on these proud 
splendid Highlanders assembled in kilts and plaids for the 
Highland games at Oban and Inverness. Going up to John 
0' Groats, bare wild free country and the air like wine. 
Now we are in Cornwall, and this hotel is on the shore just 
opposite the superb pile of St. Michael's Mount. There has 
been a raging storm and it is entirely cut off from the 
mainland. I am happy. We are never at ease away from the 



Caldwell : 




Caldwell : 

"I am drooping with sleep as 1 hang over our little bed- 
sitting room fireplace. How eternally surprised they all 
are here that we Americans demand a living temperature in 
the house when we are not exercising. Our sons were 
thirteen several days ago. Such gay and husky travellers. 
Cheerful, rain or shine. Kay, I love being married and 
having a household! I'm happy for you! 
Affectionately, Una Jeffers." 

[Caldwell and Riess look at collection of photographs of the 
Jefferses with Colonel Wood and Sara Bard Field and other 
friends . Una on the beach surrounded by the boulders that 
Jeffers hauled up to build Tor House.] 

This is a great collection. 
Bancroft Library? 

Do you want to give these to The 

That's what I'd like to do. I infuriated a Japanese scholar one 
time because I wouldn't let him print these. 

Why do you have these pictures? 

My mother had them. Una has written on the back of some of 
them. They represent two different occasions. 

Jeffers is handsome. 

Oh, you fell in love with that man. Women were always trying to 
lure him away. Mabel Luhan was the one who finally got them to 
come visit her, you know. This is a cute picture of the boys, 
Garth and Donan. And here, this is Ella Winter, and Pete 
[Steffens] . 

Were Una Jeffers and your mother good women friends? 

We never thought of them pairing off socially. I never thought 
of them in those terms. We more or less visited in a group. 
And after all, we weren't neighbors. When we'd go there we'd be 
going for a picnic, and it was kind of a special occasion. 

This is an interesting picture. This is Lincoln Steffens, 
and me, and the boys, and Una and Robin and Pops [standing by 
Cadillac touring car] . 

Did you stay with the Jefferses when you went down? 

Oh, no, not at all. We stayed with Noel Sullivan. The 
Jefferses didn't ever have guests overnight, as far as I know. 
I never heard of anybody staying with them. Maybe they did with 




relatives or friends they had known longer. But we never 
thought in terms of staying with them. We would go and have 
lunch and have a daytime visit maybe for a couple of hours. And 
then we would go, either back to Noel Sullivan's, or the Peter 
Pan Inn. 

Mother speaks in her oral history about staying at a place 
called the Peter Pan Inn, or lodge. The women who started the 
Carmel Bach Festival had a place called the Peter Pan Inn. And 
when Mother and Pops went to the Bach Festival concerts they 
would stay either with Noel or stay at the Peter Pan. 

Una's letter suggests she had a great fondness for you. 

Yes, well, you see, she was the one that would talk. Jeffers 
didn't talk to you very much. He had a few monosyllabic 
comments. Una was folksy, she was outgoing. Jeffers- -I never 
thought he was in any way unfriendly, or withdrawn, he just 
wasn't a man of words. He was not a person with whom you had an 
interchange, exactly. We just accepted that. 

An Evening with Dylan Thomas . 19A9 

Riess: Margaret Owings in her oral history describes introducing 
Jeffers and Dylan Thomas . * 

Caldwell: That I don't know about. I only know about Dylan Thomas at our 
house in Berkeley. That's all I know. 

Riess: I would like to hear that story. That was when? 

Caldwell: That was during the loyalty oath controversy. That had to be 

My husband was very much involved with it [loyalty oath 
controversy] for a long time and held out for a long time, and 
there were frantic meetings, meetings all the time. The non- 
signers- -and there were about twenty-nine, I think- -were getting 
together and planning their strategy. And my husband was under 
frightful pressure because while he eventually did sign he 
didn't want to at all, and he was working with the non-signers. 

1 pp. 255-256, Margaret Wentworth Owings, Artist, and Wildlife and 
Environmental Defender. Regional Oral History Office, UC Berkeley, 1991. 


At that point Jim was chairman of the English department, 
for the summer- -this was in the summerand Dylan Thomas was 
scheduled to give a reading. Before he came to our house he 
[Dylan Thomas] had made an appointment with Jim, to meet him to 
talk about the details of the lecture, where it would be and all 
of that, and he broke the appointment. Jim had had to leave a 
strategic loyalty oath conference in order to meet Thomas, who 
was a no -show. He was a no -show with everybody; everybody was 
infuriated with him. Even for a dinner party that Mark Schorer 
had given for him he was a no -show. 

But Jim was beside himself with rage because he had left 
this important loyalty oath meeting. And remembering that 
Thomas's last appearance, which I think was at Princeton, he was 
so drunk that he had fallen down, Jim wanted to talk to him and 
wanted to be sure he would be sober. He spoke to him very 

Then, because Jim was to introduce him, we invited him to 
dinner. Mark Schorer was out of town, and Jim was taking his 
place as chairman, so there was just Ruth Schorer, Jim Caldwell, 
Dylan Thomas, and myself at the dinner. The conversation simply 
didn't flow at all. The only responses Dylan Thomas would make 
were, "Oh, yes, is it so." "Is it so." "Oh, yes." Absolutely 
nothing but that kind of meaningless, if you can call it 
response. It was a most unpleasant occasion. 

Then we went down to the campus and we found that the room 
which was assigned to Dylan Thomas had been filled maybe two 
hours earlier, and there was a line, heaven knows how long, 
trying to get into this rather small lecture hall. The large 
Wheeler Hall auditorium had a very famous archaeologist, art 
historian, who was lecturing there with a handful of people, 
embarrassingly few. So they switched. And Wheeler Auditorium 
filled up just in no time at all with admirers of Thomas. 

Ruth Schorer and I sat down rather close to the front, 
waiting for the introduction, and Jim gave, of course, a very 
gracious introduction. And then Dylan Thomas took an enormous 
breath- -we were sitting in about the fourth row and we could 
hear this great intake of breath- -and as he exhaled he said, "Do 
not go gently into that good night..." 

His recitation of the poem was so beautiful, and he didn't 
make any prefatory remarks; he didn't acknowledge the person who 
had introduced him, or that he was at the University of 
California or anything. He simply plunged into the "spouting," 
as Jim would have said, of his poetry. And it was so moving 
that we forgot any hostility, or lack of approval we might have 
had of him. I never can imagine anybody reading with such 

fervor and depth, 
still, you know. 


And he had the whole auditorium Just so 

After it was over there was a group of students waiting to 
entertain him. And we learned that he simply loathed being with 
faculty, that he couldn't wait to go with these far-out graduate 
students, who took him off to a party. And that's my story 
about Dylan Thomas . 

I must say that he was cold sober for the reading. To my 
surprise, Tom Parkinson, who also comments on Dylan Thomas's 
appearance here- -not at our house- -says quite mistakenly that he 
was drunk, but he was not. And for the reasons 1 have given 
you, I knew perfectly well that he was just as sober as you 
could possibly wish. [Dylan Thomas did visit Berkeley again. 

But I feel sorry to have to say that, because Jim was 
usually such a sympathetic person, but he was overwrought with 
the anxiety of the loyalty oath. In retrospect I feel sorry 
that this hostility existed. But he was exercising his 
responsibility as a department chairman and getting that speaker 
on the stage in a state where he could actually communicate. 

The Lovaltv Oath 

Riess: About the loyalty oath, because Jim was on the ACLU board, did 

that complicate his thinking? And that he represented something 
more than himself? 

Caldwell: Oh, I think you are right about that, I think that intensified 
his anxiety about signing the oath. Did you want to talk about 
the oath? 

Riess: Yes. 

Caldwell: The thing of it was that he was such a hard-working member of 
the group opposing the Regents. And I think nobody could ever 
believe that the Regents would take such an attitude toward the 
faculty, but they did. 

Riess: Jim was in [Edward Chase] Tolman's group. 

Caldwell: Yes, he and Tolman were dear friends. He was definitely a 
member of Tolman's group. And Tolman was simply 
wonderful --Muscatine was in that group too, of non-signers- -you 
couldn't imagine anybody more understanding. 





When Jim finally, at the very end, defected from the group 
and signed, nobody could have been more understanding than 
Tolman. He said, "After all, Jin, most of us in this group have 
independent means, and it's easy for us." He just said 
everything you could possibly think of trying to ease the pain 
that Jim had in making this decision. 

You and Jim had talked about what it would mean if he signed. 

Well, he worried very much about the economic side, but I think 
that wasn't the fundamental reason that he didn't do it. 

I forgot to say that George Stewart was influential in 
Jim's making the decision to sign. George Stewart was older 
than Jim- -I think he was retiredand to my great annoyance--. 
I didn't want Jim to sign, and neither did the children- -though 
it was easy enough for us, of course, to take that view, we 
didn't have economic responsibility for the family. 

In any case, George used to annoy me- -but I was fond of 
George personally- -because he used to come down and sort of turn 
up late morning or early afternoon to talk to Jim and try to--. 
He said, "Jim, you should sign it because you can have much more 
influence within the faculty, staying on the faculty, to get rid 
of the loyalty oath." 

That was Stewart's line, that it isn't that you just 
supinely accept the fact that this indignity had been put upon 
the faculty, but you would be able more effectively to eliminate 
it by staying on. And you know, he [Stewart] wrote that book 
called The Year of the Oath. This, of course, was a kind of 
rationalization for Jim, I suppose we might call it, for signing 
it. He did provide a lot- -Jim did provide a lot- -of material 
for Stewart's book on the oath. 

Sounds like the English department was a real crucible. 

Yes, that is really true. Of course there were other 
departments, and there were all kinds of subterfuges. I heard 
there was one young man in the oriental languages department and 
the faculty would employ him under the table, so to speak, as a 
TA. They'd pay him out of their own pockets. He was a non- 
signer and he had lost his income, so his colleagues took it 
upon themselves to pay him. 


Ben Lehman said in his oral history, 
academic freedom." 

'Too much fuss about 


Caldwell: That, of course, infuriated Jim. The thing of it is, because 

Jim felt so strongly about this and held out for so long, I have 
always thought that this did more to undermine his health and 
contribute to his heart trouble than anything. His whole life, 
his health was undermined by the strain of all of this. That's 
my view. I don't mean that any doctor ever said that. My 
daughter agrees with this, that the strain was just too much. 

Riess: Did he lose friends over it? 

Caldwell: There was a coldness that developed with one or two friends who 
had signed and felt that it was not the right thing for the non- 
signers to take the point of view that they had taken. Ed 
Strong- -Jim and Ed Strong, we had a very close friendship with 
them, they used to come up to our mountain cabin with their 
family, and their children and our children would play together. 
And there was a coldness that developed there. 

Riess: How about for you? Did you stand back? 

Caldwell: [laughs] You know, I was so upset that Jim did sign it that--. 
But on the other hand, he was the one that had the 
responsibility. It wasn't anything that we had any kind of 
difficulty about talking about, but I was very disappointed. 

Riess: With the liberal background you came from. 

Caldwell: Yes, it seemed a terrible thing. But I also felt sorry for him 
and realized the pressures on him. We talked about it, and I 
said I'd be willing to take the consequences of not signing- -and 
it was interesting that the children, even Dan, got interested 
in this- -he was so much younger, I mean. 

Riess: Did they pick it up at school? Or was it listening at home? 

Caldwell: Listening to us talk. That's interesting. I don't think that 
they ever talked about it with their little friends. Though 
after all, they were pretty grown up. 

A Woman ' B Place . Women Friends 

Caldwell: I have to say, for all the atmosphere of equality between men 
and women with which I was brought up, my feeling about Jim's 
profession was that it was his world, and I didn't enter into 
it. Maybe it was partly because I did have my own profession, 


but also -I felt that this was something that had to be 
respectedJim's decision and his life on campus. 

In those days, even in the English department, the attitude 
was thatwomen can't believe it now, I'm sure that the woman's 
sphere was domestic. It was very old-fashioned. One of the 
reasons that Jim and I never had the members of just one 
department, the English department, as guests at a dinner party, 
was so that it wouldn't become, as Jim would say, a department 

Jim did not approve of a social occasion being turned into 
a localized departmental gathering. So many parties I went to 
at that time, at other people's houses, the men- -they didn't go 
into another room, as they did earlier on, excusing themselves 
from the ladies to have coffee and brandy, but they did group 
themselves in one part of the room, separate. The women 
supposedly were talking about recipes --it makes me think of how 
Hillary [Rodham Clinton] was pilloried- -and bargains in the 
stores and so on. 

That wasn't, of course, universally true, and our little 
group within the English department with a number of people, the 
Clines and Bronsons, that group always was completely gathered 
together on an equal basis. We felt very superior and advanced 
compared to all the old fogies. That was an interesting point, 
and I think that was what set aside this small more advanced, 
more modern group within the English department to which Jim 

I think also that they [the group] were somewhat resented; 
they felt we were being very elitist and withdrawn from the 
rest. There was a little feeling of- -I don't know whether it 
was jealously or hostility or what, but anyway, we were quite 
definitely separated out as a group within the English 
department, a sort of coterie. 

Riess: The group you had lunch with, the Sanfords and Rowellses, would 
they have been included? 

Caldwell: As husbands and wives, yes. The Sanfords --their daughter, 

incidentally, lives here in town now, and I was talking with her 
yesterday about her mother- -Christine Sanford was a very strong 
character, stronger than any woman you have ever known in your 
life. She's the one, she and Margaret Rowell, had these women's 
lunches that I think you are referring to. 

Riess: Nevitt Sanford was a non- signer. I wondered whether you talked 
about that oath at the lunches . 


Caldwell: We probably did talk about it, but it doesn't stand out in my 

mind. My feelings were so intense about Jim's part in this, and 
the reputation of the University, the way we had always loved 
the University. All of those things, those feelings were much 
stronger than any discussion of it outside the house. 

Riess: With that group of women, you wouldn't have been talking about 
recipes? What would you talk about? 

Caldwell: Oh no, we were a- -a bluestocking group you would have called it 
in New England. And we had a lot in common, because we talked 
about ideas, and books, and politics. We were drawn together. 
It was just a natural attraction. 

Kathleen Tolman, she was an extremely important person in 
my life- -I have always admired her, over and above the fact that 
she was the wife of the man who led the loyalty oath. 

We would argue. Christine Sanford was such a strong 
personality. I remember a time one of the women went home in 
tears, just left in the middle of the group. Christine was a 
steamroller personality. Jim Caldwell, when he first met her he 
couldn't stand her. Then he grew, as everybody else did, to be 
an ardent admirer of her. There was nothing that she wouldn't 
say if she thought it. And she not only would disagree, but she 
wouldn't let go of the argument. 

I remember one time going to a dinner party at the 
Sanford' s and the guest of honor was a clergyman, and he just 
mentioned, in the course of the conversation, that he had 
changed from the King James version of the Bible to the modern 
one. Christine Sanford was simply furious. She would not drop 
it for the entire evening. She simply tore him to pieces. And 
he was her guest, you know. [laughter] But somehow or other 
her honesty and her essential good nature weighed favorably in 
her favor. 

Josephine Miles 

Caldwell : 

We were talking about women in the English department. 
Josephine Miles there? 


Oh, that was much later, much later. Well, not all that much 
later, because actually, when she came, Jim was teaching the 
poetry course. 


She was a graduate student, and I'll never forget the first 
time I saw Josephine. Ve used to have Jim's students in 
socially, oftentimes, at our house, instead of meeting on the 
campus. She was brought in- -carried in, of course, and that's 
something you can't avoid being curious about- -and then 
everybody read their poetry before Josephine. 

I was terribly, terribly tired--! guess my daughter then 
was a baby- -but then all of a sudden Josephine read, and it was 
electrifying. Even then, as a graduate student, her poetry was 
so outstanding that it just brought you to life to hear her. I 
was so impressed by her. That was my first memory of Josephine 
as a graduate student, and how remarkably alive her poetry was. 

Riess: Was it the delivery, or the person--? 

Caldwell: Oh, no, no, her delivery was very bad. Jim used to tell her 

that. She didn't have to do this on account of her disability, 
but she put her head down and kind of mumbled her words. Jim 
used to tell her she should speak out. 

Riess: Tell me more about Josephine Miles. 

Caldwell: Josephine Miles was a person who, by her own observation, was 

limited in her experience of life. She couldn't have love, she 
couldn't have freedom of movement to travel to the great 
capitals of Europe or anything. She was limited, but to her own 
amazement, and her own observation, young people would spill out 
to her all their marital problems, their anxieties about their 
Ph.D.s--of course she knew about that- -whatever . They would 
tell her the intimate details of their lives and expect her to 
make comment. 

She would say, "Here 1 am, unable ever to experience the 
kind of experiences they have, but they seem to want my 
counsel." That's because she was such a wonderful listener. 
She just loved people, and it didn't matter whether it was the 
passing plumber or gardener, or some visitor from Oxford. She 
could absorb, experience, through other people more intently 
than anyone I've ever known. 

Because of her way of living in the world she couldn't 
physically experience the experiences of others, and therefore 
she concentrated her whole being on listening to them. And so 
you can imagine --every one likes to hear themselves talk, but 
these young students, can you imagine, with all their pressing 
problems? During the Depression- -she was always very 
hospitable, and she always offered some kind of nourishment, 
food and drink- -during the Depression these students would 


hungrily grab for the food and nourish themselves on what they 
were offered. She mentioned this quite often, how hungry they 
were. Obviously because they had nothing to spend on food. 

I've never known anyone who was able to listen, whether it 
was to a personal account of a problem, or whether it was a 
highly reasoned intellectual argument, like Josephine. She'd 
kind of half -close her eyes when somebody was giving a lecture. 
One time there was a philosopher whom everyone found difficult 
to understand, and Josephine, quietly half -closing her eyes and 
concentrating, asked the most pertinent questions, but not in 
technical language. Other people would rather pretentiously 
phrase their questions in such a way that it sounded as if they 
were well-versed in the speaker's views, but Josephine in the 
most simple language would put her finger right on the most 
important topic. Amazing mind. 

Her mother should be given unlimited praise for the way she 
handled her daughter's disability. And there was never any 
sense , around Josephine , that you should not mention her 
affliction. I remember once when Josephine was being carried 
through my garden, some kids next door said, "What's the matter 
with you?" She said, "Well, my legs don't work very well." 

She never felt any defense or apology for her condition, 
because her mother had established the pattern in the household 
of accepting the situation. She was born, you know, completely 
normal. The first four years of her life she was a normal 
child, and then this dreadful affliction overcame her. 

Jim Caldwell's Teaching, and His Personality 

Riess: You said Jim taught poetry then? 

Caldwell: Yes. At that time he did. Later on he was glad to give up the 
poetry class. When Josephine became a member of the faculty, he 
was very, very glad to turn it over to her. 

Riess: What are the thorny aspects of teaching the poetry class? 

Caldwell: I really shouldn't comment on that very much, because I've never 
taught it, but I think it's just more difficult to present. 

Riess: His qualities as a teacher from the In Memoriam statement were 
interesting to me. It reads, "The great characteristic of the 
poetic state, he taught, was a special freedom and richness of 


feeling, a great and bold marshalling of consciousness. Poetry 
is a great act of emancipation, which is still an act of 
infinitely complex and firm control. Maximal freedom, and the 
maximum order- -can we not turn back to life for this value, 
leaving all possible room for that difference between the 
consciousness of art and the mind of life?" 

Riess: You lived in the midst of people who believed in poetry. 

Caldwell: Yes, that is true. Although I have to say that when it came to 
interaction with the students, to me I was very separated from 
them, except these occasions when they would come to the house. 
I think it was also because I was so enormously involved in my 
own work. So my association with Jim intellectually on the 
poetic side was more in connection with his own writing rather 
than with his teaching of it. I just knew he was enormously 
appreciated as a teacher, and to this day I'll meet people every 
now and then who say, "He is my most vivid memory as a teacher, 
and I'll never forget him," and that kind of thing. 

When Jim died, I had many, many letters, a couple of 
hundred letters. Every one of the letters, whether from young 
or old, "He was my best friend." He gave a great deal of 
personal attention to his students. I was always sorry he 
didn't write more himself. He only published one slight volume 
of poetry. It was published by Indiana University Press. 

Riess: Did he and Sara talk a lot about poetry? 

Caldwell: Mostly about her poetry, and when Colonel Wood was alive, about 

Come to think of it, that was one thing about Jim that was 
quite interesting: he always drew out other people, gave himself 
to other people. I remember once--. He was a great friend of 
Albert Elkus who was chairman of the music department for some 
years, a charming, wonderful man. I don't think the oral 
history program had been instituted, and so you probably didn't 
have Albert's wonderful contributions. 

But Jim and Albert had lunch together quite frequently, as 
did Meiklejohn and Jim. When Jim would come home, he was always 
talking about Albert's projects or Meiklejohn 's projects, and I 
once said to him, "Do they ever ask you about what you're 
thinking and what you're doing?" "Oh," he said, "I never 
thought of that. No, I don't believe they do." 

I think that was also true in respect to my mother and 
stepfather. He was involved in what they were doing, not that 


they weren't interested in what he did, but he was so remarkable 
a person to draw others out about what they were focusing on. 
It makes me realize how very absorbed I was in my own art world. 

The literature of England and the United States were pretty 
compelling for him. His interests were very disparate: the 
Romantic movement and John Keats, and the Middle Ages --he was 
interested in Gervaise of Tilbury. 

Riess: And did you become interested in those interests of his? 

Caldwell: I was interested in his grappling with the subject of 

translation, the Medieval Latin, but actually it was surprising 
to me that he didn't write more poetry and stay more in the 
field in criticism, at which he was excellent. I found it hard, 
and so did his friends, to understand why he immersed himself in 
the Middle Ages at that stage of his life. 

Riess: Did writing poetry come easily for him? 

Caldwell: Oh no. I don't think it does to anyone. My experience with 
poets is that it is a very, very slow birth. 

Riess: Did emotions come easily to him? 
Caldwell: Oh yes, very definitely so. 

Riess: How was it for you and Jim, two professionals, did you find time 
to discuss your work together? 

Caldwell: I so seldom mention my home life, but actually I was only a part 
time worker. 1 bought the groceries and cooked the meals, and 
we had dinner together. And because I was a part time worker 1 
was at home a lot of the daytime too. I was not away from home 
when my children came home from school, and I was very much 
interested in what they were doing. I took them to museums. It 
took more with my daughter than with my son. 

We always had dinner together as a family, and it was 
always a very lively kind of an interchange. We entered into 
their lives very, very fully. We were interested in their 
experiences in school, and in their friendships, and in their 
anguish, as most children have in their adolescent years in 
school, and their failures and their triumphs. Very much so, we 
just loved those children. And of course in the summer we had 
the six weeks together in the High Sierra where we were just the 
family, fishing and hiking. 





The lessons --in Berkeley Sara took piano lessons with 
Estelle Caen, who was the sister of Herb Caen. And Dan took 
cello lessons, as you know, with Margaret Rowell. And then Dan 
studied with Gabor Rejto, who was living at Yehudi Menuhin's, so 
when we were down at Los Gatos 1 would take him to Re j to ' s 
classes, which were so fascinating 1 couldn't resist staying to 
listen to his teaching. We were very much involved with our 

And Jim was a wonderful listener. Anything that had to do 
with my relationship to my students, or Mills College, fine, the 
details of my profession, no. But that doesn't mean he wasn't 
interested. And he was extremely pleased when 1 got the Job 
there. I think he was proud of my ability to do these things, 
which might not have been true of many husbands at that time. 
He was a generous person, and very caring, and 1 think whatever 
made me happy, he was happy to share in that happiness. It 
never occurred to me to feel in any way offended if he didn't 
want to know about Japanese or Chinese art. That was my world, 
and he respected it. 

And I don't think that was a general attitude on the part 
of husbands at that time. Now it is just assumed. I ought to 
make a declaration of praise to my husband for his cooperation 
in anything I wanted to do. Because he was criticized for 
having a wife who--. I was criticized, and he was criticized I 
think for tolerating [my professional life] . As I have 
mentioned earlier, in those days married women were housewives 
and mothers. They were not professional. 

You had women friends who were professionals. Margaret Rowell. 
Her husband forbade her performing publicly after their 

Yes, but my husband's colleagues' wives were not, and those were 
my age group. 

And they didn't have children. 

Yes. They said it was economic. Those women were very 
intelligent and well-read people, you know. I think they felt 
sorry for Jim with this wife! But I never- -even in those days 
there was plenty of packaged food, but we never had packaged 
food, I always put on a good meal. It's nice to cook. I enjoy 


Having Children 

Caldwell: You haven't really asked me about the children, and of course 
that was such an important part of my life. 1 would hate to 
have anybody reading and think, "Didn't she ever care about her 
children?" It was an absolute obsession. 

Riess: Tell me more about them. When were they born? 

Caldwell: Dan was born in '36, and Sara in '32. He was four years 
younger . 

Riess: And was this planned, the spacing? 

Caldwell: Well, we didn't think about it very much, and actually 1 was 
sort of surprised when I was pregnant with Sara. I was on a 
boat up the Sacramento River with some neighbors who became very 
dear friends, and was a little bit sick to my stomach, and 
thought that it was the boat. But it turned out to not be that. 
Neither of the children were planned, but we were very happy to 
have them. We'd always expected we'd have children, but just 
didn't settle down and say, "Now, we're going to decide to have 
them . " 

But then I was completely absorbed, absolutely absorbed in 
maternity- -buying clothes, talking to other people who had 
children about it, and so on. I was absolutely derailed for a 
while from any kind of intellectual life. 

Riess: You were very absorbed in your children. 

Caldwell: I certainly was, and I took a long time out when they were born, 
I didn't work. 

1 nursed both my children, Sara not so long, because we had 
a dreadful nurse who said she wasn't getting enough nourishment, 
which wasn't true. Well, she was fired from this association of 
nurses or whatever for having done this. She was dreadful, a 
martinet, quite a military person. 

When 1 was in the hospital with Sara I insisted on nursing 
her, but those were the days when nurses wanted to line the 
babies up and stick a bottle in every baby's mouth, and then 
they could see very easily how much milk had been consumed, and 
I had a very hard time maintaining my principles. I had a 
highly enlightened woman pediatrician at that time who believed 
in breast-feeding, but it was not done. It was just not done. 

Katherine Caldwell with her daughter 
Sara, 1933. 

Photograph by Cedric Wright 

Katherine Caldwell and Sara Bard Field photographed in Berkeley, circa 1945. 

Photograph by Cedric Wright 

Daniel Ralston Caldwell, circa 1953. 

Photograph by Carol Baldwin 


Riess: How was your mother Sara as a grandmother? Was she involved? 

Cal dwell: Oh, yes, particularly with my daughter, who was named for her. 
She thought there was nobody in the world quite as 
wonderful --except Colonel Wood, and my late brother. [laughs] 
They were her great loves: Colonel Wood, my brother, and my 
daughter Sara. 

Riess: You were in Berkeley and they were in Los Gatos. 

Cal dwell: We would go there quite frequently, I would say maybe once a 

month. That may be a little exaggerated, because when Jim was 
teaching, I'm sure we didn't go down in the wintertime. 

Riess: You said your friends were not having children? 

Caldwell: No, salaries were so low that people just didn't have children, 
in the English department, anyway. The Clines and the Bronsons , 
none of these people, the Rosses, none of them had children. 
This was an oddity to them, to have a friend that had a child. 

Riess: Really? You mean not until later? 

Caldwell: Not at all. As a matter of fact, that's an interesting thing, 
because I never held a baby in my life until my daughter was 
born. The women I knew among my mother's friends who, if they 
had a child or wanted a child, maybe they had one child. But 
they were in despair. "What can we do with a child?" Meaning, 
"I want to write," or "I want to paint," or something. 

Riess: The view was that they were sort of a handicap? 

Caldwell: Yes. My mother's sister, Mary Parton, who had her association 
with Clarence Darrow, and then married a perfectly charming man, 
a newspaper man, she had one child, whose life was very, very 
difficult, because this child had to be fitted into my aunt's 
intensely intellectual life. 

I never grew up in association with people who had 
"normal," Just plain American family situations. Either they 
had none at all, my friends, or were artistic and literary 
people for whom a child was --the child was wanted but always a 

Riess: I think that that's sad. 

Caldwell: I do too. I was utterly and completelyI couldn't think about 
anything else before Sara was born but babies, talked to women 
that had babies, read books. Unfortunately I had a very, very 




pre-Dr. Spock book which gave you all the wrong advice about 
bringing up a baby, and that was too bad. The idea was, the 
baby should be left alone almost all the time, and one hour a 
day would be allocated for your playing with the baby, and I 
used to wait looking at my watch for that time. 

Those days when the children were very small were very hard 
for me because I was used to so much more stimulus. 1 really 
feel sorry now that I couldn't enjoy completely, as my friends 
in their thirties, they take time out from their careers just to 
devote to their babies. None of my friends did either, the ones 
that had children- -not necessarily here in Berkeley- -who had 
jobs. They all had that feeling that they mustn't get out of 
touch with their work. 

I don't think I got the pleasure out of being the mother of 
an infant that I could have. I now look at these women making 
this wonderful bonding with their babies. My friends now in 
their thirties are so much better mothers than any of us in our 
twenties. I was torn. I wanted the children, and I loved them, 
but 1 was torn between loving them and wanting to get back to my 

I have regrets about having been split in my interest at 
that time, many regrets. I didn't have any natural ideas 
about- -I hadn't been with women who took children in their 
stride, you know? Later on, I did. 

The women who didn't have babies, did they have careers? 

Well, no, they didn't, as a matter of fact. Interestingly 
enough, they didn't have careers. I never thought of that 
before. Mildred Bronson, Jane Cline, Nancy Ross- -none of them 
had. Although Nancy Ross- -actually she had been a T.A. in the 
English department, 1 believe, at one time. But she didn't 
carry that on, and of course, at that time, husband and wife 
wouldn't be allowed to have a job in the same institution. 

And even more interesting is the change in the University. 
In one department here, there's a husband and wife in the 
Japanese literature, both not only in the same department, but 
in the same field of research. It's fascinating, the right 
about-face in the University in regard to that. 

It used to thwart so many couples. 

Yes, it did. That's right. But no, these women, they read a 
lot, or they--I don't know what they did, really! [laughs] 


Because my own life when I was working and being a housewife was 
so organized, and full. 

Riess: Did you have a nurse or a live- in? 

Caldwell: Oh, no. No, only later at one time, in the depth of the 

Depression, we had a marvelous woman who was utterly destitute, 
the way people are now. She was an uneducated woman, but a 
marvelous human being. She lived with us for a while, and had 
her room and board with us, and a slight salary. But that was 
the only time. Mostly we managed without any kind of help. 

And oh, yes, I had a housecleaner, the minute I got a Job. 
I loved gardening, and I loved cooking, but I loathed cleaning. 
The minute I got a job, I bought a vacuum cleaner, and hired 
somebody to clean my house. 

Actually, at the depths of the Depression, Robert Gordon Sproul 
I think asked the faculty to take a salary cut. 1 suppose that 
sort of curtailed plans for a family for some. 

Yes, I have been told that the fact that people didn't have 
children was because the salaries were so low. 

My mother and stepfather were very generous to Jim and me. 
They gave me a small allowance monthly, and then when I had a 
job over at the Legion of Honor, my stepfather bought me a 
little old second-hand car to get there. So in those ways very 

Riess: In other words, they didn't see any point in your struggling. 

Caldwell: No. On the other hand, we were pretty much on our own, when we 
bought the house, for example. 



A High Sierra Retreat. Woods Lake 

Riess: Los Gatos must have been a powerful attraction as a getaway. 

Caldwell: You mean when we went there? Oh, yes, it was another home. And 
actually, I have to say they [Sara and Pops] came quite often to 
Berkeley, particularly when we were over on Tamalpais Road. But 
of course, it [The Cats] was wonderful. And the woman that 
worked for Mother and Pops just adored our children, and we 
could leave our children there and go off on a vacation. That's 


"For Old Friends' New Fireplace 1 

By Marie Welch, for the 
Caldwells at Woods Lake, on 
completion of their 

A blessing upon the stones 
A blessing upon the flue 
A blessing upon the pine logs 
And upon the pine cones 
And upon you. 

A blessing upon the spark 
And upon the flame -rise 
A blessing upon the dark 
And upon the flame -fall 
Into the shining dark 
And upon us all. 


what we did one time when we found our own little place up in 
the High Sierra. 

Riess: What kind of a little place was that? 

Caldwell: Oh, a dream place. You see, for all that Mother and Pops were 
very generous, on the other hand we were really on our own, and 
we couldn't afford to go away, being on a very slim budget. 
When we found that there were lands that the government rented 
out in the High Sierra, we parked the children with Mary and 
Vincent and Mother and Pops, and went off with a map of the 
various places , and we found this heavenly place at Carson Pass , 
at about 8,000 feet. 

True to the Caldwells having off-street places to live, we 
found a beautiful piece of land right on a little lake called 
Woods Lake, with a beautiful stream pouring into it. Could you 
reach it by car? No, you had to walk a quarter of a mile to the 
house. Of course, we didn't have any house then, it was just a 
piece of land. And $15 a year for the land, at that time! 

There were only five building places on this lake, because 
it's marshy. The only other house near us belonged to some 
hunters that came at the season of the year we didn't come at 
all, so we had this whole shore to ourselves. We were obliged 
by the government requirements to build a house of $500 worth, 
and the money that I earned at the fair [1939-1940, Treasure 
Island] as a docent was what paid for the lumber and cement for 
the cabin up at Woods Lake. 

Riess: There was a requirement that you had to put in $500 worth of 
improvements ? 

Caldwell: That's right. And we couldn't build it ourselves, so we had 
people up from Tahoe . 

But there is an interesting connection with the Wood 
family. One of Colonel Wood's granddaughters was at that point 
graduating in architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. 
[Joseph] Esherick, who's so famous on the Berkeley campus here, 
was her husband then. They had just graduated, and they drew up 
the plans --Esherick did the plans for our cabin. They refused 
to take any money for it. It was the first thing they ever did. 
And then later we lent them the cabin; they were skiers, so they 
could go up in the wintertime which we couldn't. 

Riess: Is it special architecturally? 

Caldwell: Oh, it was beautiful. We wanted something with a low ceiling, 
instead of a Swiss steep-roofed cabin. Esherick said, "No 


problem at all, we just cantilever it," so he made this lovely 
low cabin place, beautiful place. And very simple. Just one 
great huge room with a little alcove for the kitchen, and then 
three little bedrooms. 

We used to love that more than anything. We'd go up every 
summer for six weeks. Jim would take a whole lot of work along 
with him, college work. And he'd fish part of the day and do 
scholarship another part of the day. 

Riess: And you would take the children? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, that was the most fun. It's often said if you bring 

your children up to love nature they never get over that love of 
nature, and it's perfectly true. They adored it. Then we 
imported their friends for them, because we didn't want them to 
be all alone. A beautiful place. 

Riess: Do you still have it? 

Caldwell: Oh, no. It was most unfortunate. We had it for twenty- five 

years, and then Jim developed this dreadful heart trouble, and 
he couldn't go over 4,000 feet. I think it was the hardest 
thing in the world in his life, like parting with a grandchild 
or something, a death. He was very brave about it, very brave. 
But I just can't tell you what it did to him to have to part 
with that place. Some dear friends of ours went up with me to 
prepare it for sale. 

My children both loved it, but you see, my son Dan's life 
went in another direction, and my daughter never learned to 
drive, and she lived in New York for so long. And it took an 
enormous amount of physical work just to get shutters on and 
off, and the rowboat out and so on. Those are just examples of 
the enormous work that house entailed. 

Even if Jim had not developed the heart trouble, we 
couldn't have kept it ourselves unless we'd taken up a college 
student or somebody to do the heavy work. It was frightfully 
heavy work. I just loved it, too, and I used to work hard also 
up there, but age would have overwhelmed us on that. 

Interestingly enough, when we had to sell it, people said, 
"Oh, those poor Caldwells, no electricity, no gas, no plumbing. 
You'll never sell it." And we only told about it by word of 
mouth, and the first people who came at eleven in the morning 
bought it at one. [laughs] Just a treasure of a place. 

Riess: And you can get along without plumbing and electricity. 


Caldwell: Oh, yes. We had the most wonderful outhouse that was ever, ever 
built! Ed Strong, who later became chancellor here, he and his 
wife and children used to come up and stay with us. He helped 
dig the hole for the lavatory, for the toilet. 

You can imagine , we felt very superior to the people in 
Tahoe with their fashionable houses and nice clothes. Ve had 
very dear friends at Tahoe --and we were 2,000 feet higher, you 
see, over 8, 000- -and we used to take up some Tahoe clothes in a 
suitcase and go over to visit for a weekend. Ve did our 
shopping over in Nevada, and we loved that. Ve used to have 
dinner in the Sheepherder's Restaurant, a full dinner for a 
dollar, including three courses and wine. Lamb, of course. 

Dan and Sara Caldwell 

Riess: Now that we've gotten into the subject of your children, please 
go on and tell me about their lives and careers? 

Caldwell: Veil, Dan and Sara decided that the humanities were not for 

them, probably as a protest against their parents. Actually, in 
Dan's case, his interest in science was genuine, over and above 
any kind of wanting to establish his own identity. He would 
have gone in that direction. 

First, however, as I have said, he wanted to be a cellist. 
That sounds like a contradiction to what I just said, but he 
took music very seriously, went to the Conservatory in San 
Francisco, and studied with Gabor Rejto, who was very famous. 
Then he decided he wasn't good enough for the big competitions, 
and also the life, because unless you're just absolutely tops 
there's no use to go into it, and even then, the life is one of 
constant travel. Dan quite wisely decided he wasn't up to that 
kind of thing. 

Riess: Did you say he also studied with Margaret Rowel 1? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, dear Margaret. Yes, he did. She was a marvel. 1 

didn't know her until I had been in Berkeley and married to Jim 
years and years and years . 1 got to know her because I had to 
have an operation, and I had three thromboses after and was home 
for months. I got tired of just reading, and I had met her, so 
1 called her up and asked her if she had a student that could 
give me some cello lessons. She came right down in the next 
half -hour herself with a cello! Ve were fast friends after 


I took just a few lessons at that time, nothing much. When 
I took Dan up to Margaret's he was about ten years older than 
Galen [Rowell] --Galen was four or so when Dan was taking 
lessons- -and Dan was simply furious because Galen would run 
around the room and interrupt the lesson. Margaret would say, 
"Now Galen, now Galen, stop, come down off of that couch." Dan 
just hated Galen because of the lessons. 

Veil, then twenty- five years went by, and my son was at 
Laramie, Wyoming, teaching, and he saw a sign, "Lecture by Galen 
Rowell. * Of course he went, and he said he Just sat there 
laughing. Here was this beautifully organized, articulate, 
excellent lecturer. He hadn't seen him since he was four, 
rushing around, making himself a nuisance. [laughter] 

Riess: Dan and Sara both went to Berkeley schools? 

Caldwell: Yes, they did. And they both graduated from Berkeley High 

School, though there was a little interval for a year when Sara 
went to the Anna Head School , along with several other faculty 
"brats," as they were called. Then the girls decided they 
didn't want to be in a private school, so they rebelled and Sara 
eventually graduated from Berkeley High School. 

I have the most wonderful records of Sara's early life in 
Cambridge. She started in a nursery school and then first grade 
in Cambridge in private school, Buckingham School. I have still 
a record: "This child is extremely eager and extremely bright, 
but she identifies herself with grownups, and the best thing you 
can do for her is to see she's constantly with children." 

You know, we never overcame her identifying with adults. 
She told me one time she never, ever felt she was a child. She 
had a very hard time relating to her peers, because she always 
felt superior to them. 

Riess: You could relate to that, couldn't you? 

Caldwell: You mean myself? Oh, I felt superior to them [peer group] 
because of my life in San Francisco. But more like most 
adolescent girls, socially I felt very out of touch with my 
contemporaries . 

Riess: Isn't that what Sara was feeling, too? 

Caldwell: Well, 1 guess so. Though it seems to me she did have young 

friends. 1 know when she graduated she had an invitation to go 


to the dance with a nice young man from a very respectable 
family in Berkeley. Up to a certain point, she seemed to have 
adjusted pretty well, but she remembers her adolescent years 
just bitterly, hated Berkeley High School, she said. 

And Dan the same way. They all think it was a terrible 
misfortune to be children of university people. You just didn't 
know how to get along with other kids. Dan to this day likes 
the idea of just being a plain American, and not a professor's 
son. Even though he's a professor himself. 

He didn't get into the University of California graduate 
school, and so he decided instead of trying to go to another 
graduate school he'd volunteer for the army. He was in the army 
for two years. Then he got his doctorate at the University of 
Maryland in microbiology, and eventually went to the University 
of Wyoming. He's a full professor there now. 

Sara, after several years of thrashing around, decided 
she'd better do something to earn a living, and she quickly 
decided- -rather impulsively, I think, I may be wrong about the 
impulsive side, but it seems so to me- -to get her degree in 
social welfare here at Berkeley. She graduated with honors in 
English literature from Berkeley, by the way. She went two 
years to Radcliffe, and then she transferred to Berkeley, 
graduated with honors in English literature, and decided to 
reject the humanities. She could by getting a master's degree 
in social welfare then get a job quite easily, and that's what 
she did. 

She's an extremely good editor. She would have been 
wonderful in some literary capacity. If you really want to have 
somebody cast a sharp, intelligent eye on anything you've 
written, just hand it to Sara. Now she's living across the 
street. She came back to California about a year ago, and after 
some interval of about three, four, five months, she got a very 
good job in San Francisco. She's working as a social worker 
there . 

Riess: Dan is married? 

Caldwell: Dan has been married twice. He had two children by his first 
wife. When he was in the army in Puerto Rico he married a 
Puerto Rican woman. She's a very honorable person, but they had 
absolutely nothing in common together, except their youth. Jim 
and I were very upset about the wedding, but they invited us to 
come , and we flew- -we went from London back to New York and down 
to Puerto Rico for their marriage. 


She had been more or less adopted into the home of some 
people from Philadelphia who were Protestants . She hated the 
Catholic church because her father didn't believe in the higher 
education of women. She had a couple of years at the University 
of Puerto Rico, where she supported herself. She left home --she 
was sort of a live- in babysitter. She had been to Philadelphia, 
actually, with these people. 

Anyway, Dan met her while he was in the army down there. 1 
wrote him the kind of letter that mothers write to sons in the 
service, about how marriage is a difficult adjustment, and if 
you don't marry people with whom you have lots in common, it 
makes it more difficult. 

They were married down there in a beautiful little 
Protestant church. It was the most fascinating wedding, because 
of course she came from poverty the like of which I'd only seen 
in India. We insisted on going to see her parents. These 
Americans with whom she'd been living had never met her parents. 
Jim and I insisted, and of course, they couldn't speak English. 
Actually, they could neither read nor write, her parents, any 
language . 

Her father was building a house with some kind of cement 
blocks that were handed out by the government. We saw poverty 
of unbelievable degradation. At the wedding, Dan's friends were 
all from the army, and then there were all these strange -looking 
ragamuffins on the other side, in clothes that didn't fit that 
they'd borrowed just to come. I don't mean that there's 
anything wrong with people because they have poor clothes on, 
but I mean to say people with a little more background, like 
Dan's--. The Americans who had befriended her, of course, were 
just delighted to have her make this marriage. 

But it [the marriage] had a very unfortunate outcome. They 
had two daughters- -of course, that was a very fortunate 
outcome- -but they stayed together all too long. Finally Dan 
divorced Isabel. His second marriage is a dream of dreams from 
the point of view of the mother-in-law. I couldn't imagine a 
more marvelous person than the woman that Dan married the second 
time around. 

He met her while he was on sabbatical at the University of 
Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Dan is religious, the only member 
of the family who is, and he met her in the choir of a church. 
Beautiful church, by the way, 1821, a gorgeous place. She had 
been a widow for twelve years, had three grown children. She's 
Just about Dan's age, and I cannot express greater admiration 


for anyone than I have for this woman, 
you can imagine . 

The happiest marriage 

But that's another reason why that lovely place in Woods 
Lake isn't accessible, you see, to Dan, because they spend their 
time --he goes in the summer, to Athens, Georgia, and then they 
come here for Christmas and so on. But there's no opportunity 
for them to use that beautiful Mendocino--. Oh, yes, in the 
course of time we used the money that we received for the sale 
of the land at Woods Lake to buy three acres on the Mendocino 
coast, which I've given to my children now so they don't have to 
pay inheritance tax when I die. 

Riess: With a house on it? 

Caldwell: No house. Jim died before we ever built anything, and I didn't 
feel that I'd ever use the house if I were to have built one. 

Riess: What is it about being a child of academics? Why is it so hard? 

Caldwell: Oh, they all hate it. They weren't ordinary Americans. They 

couldn't talk- -they didn't look at --of course, they didn't have 
television then, but they didn't know--. The kind of 
conversation we had at home wasn't the kind of conversation 
their friends had at their houses. They just felt out of it, 
and they felt bitter about it. 

Riess: And we started by your pointing out that your friends didn't 
even have children. 

Caldwell: That is true, although by this time we had plenty of friends who 
had children, and we had a little play school that met at 
different houses five days a week. But they were all faculty 
children, all of them! And by this time, we had extended our 
acquaintance far beyond the English department, which seemed to 
be so dead-set against having children, and we had much wider 
acquaintance within the University. Not one, come to think of 
it, just one, I think the Strongs, were the only people who were 
in that- -not anybody in the English department. No, not 
anybody. He was in philosophy. 

There was one person- -we knew them in Cambridge , the 
Binghams, Woodbridge Bingham. He and my husband came to 
Berkeley, got their Ph.D.s the same year at Harvard, and we came 
to Berkeley the same year. They were very wealthy people, and 
they lived in a beautiful apartment in Cambridge on the river, 
and we lived in what we called the "Ashcan," a little miserable 
apartment on Ash Street. Their children were among the children 
that were part of our little play group, too. 


Sara Bard Field ' Suicide Attempts 


Caldwell : 



Somewhere in this history we need to clear up the story of your 
mother's suicide attempts. When, and where? Were the Marengos 

The two suicide attempts were after Pops had died. She stayed 
on at Los Gatos a few years after Pops died- -not too long, the 
Marengos couldn't handle it. They also wanted to retire, 
because Vincent Marengo had terrible, terrible asthma as a 
result of pollens and what not. 

What couldn't the Marengos handle? 

They felt that she was lonely and depressed and that she should 
be up in Berkeley close to us. However, they were in Los Gatos 
for these two suicide attempts. This was all, as 1 said, after 
Pops had died. They stayed on for a while. I remember they 
called me up on the phone, hysterically- -Vincent did- -about her. 
"Jesus, Kay, you come down here quick, your mother took all the 
sleeping pills. " 

After the second time this happened, at Los Gatos, with the 
Marengos there, they, like me, were absolutely furious that 
Mother would do this and cause all this [misery for everyone]. 
They were just as angry as I was. And 1 remember feeling so 
guilty about being angry. 

I went down there and had to help get her out of this . The 
withdrawal symptoms were simply appalling, perfectly awful, from 
taking all the dope. See, she took all these sleeping pills. 
Her whole bathroom cabinet was just full of sedatives. She had 
taken bottles of them, just swallowed the whole lot down. Each 
time. She had promised the Marengos after the first suicide 
attempt that she would never again accumulate this stuff. But 
she did. You know, like anybody with an addiction, they just 
can't help it. 

What kind of drugs? 

At that time- -I don't know precisely, except that they were all 
for sleeping. Later on she got to the point where she was 
shooting herself with heaven knows what. When she was up here. 
And she would collapse, and my husband would be called at four 
in the morning to come over and help get her off the floor. Or 
the police. It was terrible. 


Riess: And her doctors? Did she have a psychiatrist? 
Caldwell: No, she didn't. It wasn't until I insisted on this. 

Her doctor was a dear friend, and he said, "Why not let her 
have anything at her age," you see? The consequences for those 
that took care of her were appalling. And of course, it 
produced a character change as well, so that she was not very 
easy to get along with, and she had trouble with her health. 
All kinds of complications. 

She does refer, in a letter that will be down at the 
Huntington, to a suicide attempt much earlier in her life. And 
maybe that should be referred to, because it was a pattern. It 
was when- -I think she felt there was a time when she and Pops 
would never get their lives together. She had a terrible 
anguish about that. I don't know just when that was. But that 
particular letter I did send down to the Huntington. 

Riess: After the two suicide attempts, did you think of some more 
professional care for your mother? 

Caldwell: No. And she had a doctor down there, an awfully nice man, Dr. 
Jones, who was devoted to Mother and Pops and saw Pops through 
his last years, and his last hours. But it never occurred to 
any of them to do anything about that. And they let her have 
all she wanted. 

Riess: How awful for you. 

Caldwell: It was terrible, it was devastating. 

On the way home from the second suicide attempt I was so 
angry. And then I felt so guilty about being so angry toward my 
mother, and I stopped in at the home of some wonderful friends 
by the name of McGiffert. The man [Arthur Cushman McGiffert] 
was the head of the GTU [Graduate Theological Union] down here 
[president of Pacific School of Religion, 1939-1945], and his 
wife, Elizabeth, was a dear friend, who was very sophisticated. 
She was older than I , but somehow or other she knew a lot about 
psychiatry, and she said how normal this was for me to be angry, 
[laughing] It almost brings tears to my eyes now to think how 
grateful I was to her for not faulting me for my anger toward my 

But it was a terrible thing, because I had been so 
worshipful toward my mother, and suddenly I realized that she 
was not the angel that I had thought, the perfect person I had 
thought. And of course, it was hard on her because if ever 


anybody wanted adulation it was she. It was hard for her to 
take too. So that made a great strain between us then. 

Riess: When was it that you consulted Anna Maenchen? 

Caldwell: That must have been after the second suicide attempt. Anna 
Maenchen very sensibly saw that Mother needed a psychiatrist, 
somebody that was a medical person- -Maenchen was a therapist, 
not a psychiatrist- -and she sent Mother to somebody in San 
Francisco. [laughing] The reason I am laughing is, I then went 
to see the woman that Anna had sent her to, and she said to me, 
"Do you know what your mother is? She is a sixty-year-old baby. 
She wants what she wants when she wants it . " 

Riess: Did your mother see that psychiatrist on a regular basis? 

Caldwell: No, she didn't have any therapy at all. I'm not quite sure why 
there was no follow-up on that, maybe they thought she was too 
old. But I'll never forget how surprised I was at that blunt 
statement on the part of that psychiatrist. It was very 
shocking to me , but also very helpful . Because I never 
criticized my mother, you see, and this was quite an eye-opener, 
that a professional person would make that evaluation. 

Riess: When your mother was established in Berkeley did she continue to 
be depressed? 

Caldwell: She never was happy after Pops died. She felt that her identity 
was with him at Los Gatos . She had a sense that their whole 
life there was an attraction to people of brilliance and 
quality. She never felt that life could be the way she wanted 
it to be after she left Los Gatos. 

She had a lovely little house- -it was destroyed by the 
freeway- -in East Oakland. For a little while she had a nice 
life there, she entertained and so on. But when she moved away 
from there she was terribly depressed. She wanted to be near 
us , and we felt she should be , but the only house we could find 
on one floor was this house here [gesturing] . It was such a 
coup to find a house in this neighborhood on one floor, you 
know, but she always hated the house, hated everything. 

Riess: Where was the house? 

Caldwell: You can't see it from here, but it's just three doors away, on 
Hawthorne Terrace. 


You had her by your side. 


Caldwell: Oh yes, for ten years she lived there, until she died. And she 
died in that house. 

I used to go see her all the time. I'll never forget, 
after Jim's death when I went to a psychiatrist it didn't help 
me at all [about Jim], but it did help about my mother. I said 
that my mother didn't seem to feel that I did enough for her. 
And he said, "How often do you go to see her?" I said, "Oh, 
about five times a week." [laughs] "Oh," he said, "how 
shocking! You shouldn't be-- I" So, instead of getting any help 
on grieving for Jim, I got great help from the psychiatrist on 
my relationship with my mother. 



The Legion of Honor Job: Directors 

Riess: How did you get the Job lecturing at the Palace of the Legion of 

Caldwell: I had the master's degree from Harvard, and had taken a museum 
course, the first ever given on the subject. And actually, I 
simply applied for this. I don't think there was any influence 
involved in this, through my stepfather. He did know the people 
on the board of trustees out there. But on the other hand, they 
needed somebody, and my credentials were good. 

And that kind of job, you just did everything. In those 
days, the staff was so small, you did everything from newspaper 
work to supervising the hanging of pictures, and lecturing. 

Riess: The Palace of the Legion of Honor was built- - 

Caldwell: By Mrs. [Alma de Bretteville] Spreckels, to be a reproduction of 
the Palais de la Legion d'Honneur in France. She wanted it to 
be the first thing people saw coming through the Golden Gate. 

Did I tell you about that awful situation when I was at 
Harvard and their needing a new director of the Legion of Honor, 
because they'd had such dreadful people, dope fiends and whatnot 
before, who weren't doing their job? I don't want to repeat 
this. [tape interruption] 

For a while, both the de Young and the Legion of Honor were 
under the same directorship as they are now [in 1971 the two 
institutions were placed under one governing head] , but I think 
the people who are in charge now think they're the first ones 
that ever united those two. It wasn't true. 



Lloyd Rollins was the name of this man who was brought In 
BO unfortunately, by the way. He made it very difficult for 
anybody who was not gay- -we didn't use the word gay then- -to 
have an exhibition, because he'd favor his friends. That's the 
kind of harm that he did. And for the guards in the museum he 
would employ his friends, and he'd use them for personal parties 
at home, on city money. 

Finally, he had some dreadful death, I think. If I'm not 
mistaken, he was intoxicated and sort of fell in the street. 
But it was a very, very, very bad situation. He brought in 
Thomas Carr Howe, who succeeded him. I'm smiling, because Tommy 
Howe was also part of the same group at Harvard. But Tommy Howe 
became so famous in San Francisco society at the time, and 
seeing what had happened to Rollins, he married a woman of very 
great wealth, and had a child by her. So he made it impossible 
to criticize him. 

Anyway [laughs], all that mess I was in. 

Subsequent to the Legion of Honor, I worked at the de 
Young, and then after that with Grace Morley. 

According to your resume you were a lecturer at the San 
Francisco Museum of Art from 1934 to 1940. 

Caldwell: Yes, I was there at the time of the fair of '39 and '40. 

Riess: And you were a lecturer at the Palace of the Legion of Honor 
from '30 to '32. 

Caldwell: Then I worked at the de Young Museum in between that, for a 

little while. It was in that order: Legion, de Young, Museum of 
Modern Art. I remember I was pregnant with Dan [born 1936] when 
I was working at the de Young. And it was after that [sic] that 
I went to the San Francisco Museum- -we just called it the San 
Francisco Museum of Art at that time, by the way, "Modern" was 
added later. 

Treasure Island Fair. Arts of the Pacific 

Caldwell: At the time of the '39-'40 International Exposition on Treasure 
Island, my great teacher Langdon Warner had a two-year leave of 
absence from Harvard to put on this extraordinary exhibition 
called Arts of the Pacific, meaning that every country bordering 
the Pacific Ocean was represented, but of course China and Japan 
were most heavily represented. 


Riess: Langdon Warner out here for the two years? 

Caldvell: Yes, he had a house on Roble Road, a beautiful house on Roble 
Road. He gave his entire attention- -he of course had to spend 
some of the time of his absence from Harvard by assembling all 
this material. Japanese art was his specialty. 

So then I lectured there all during the fair. 
Riess: Was it a slide lecture? 

Caldwell: No. 1 was a docent, actually. 1 did use slides. There was a 
little theater there where one could use slides, and if I ever 
had children, which 1 usually avoided because I didn't think I 
could do very well with them, 1 would use slides of maybe five 
pictures from different parts of the museum, and ask them who 
could go and find the picture first, that kind of thing. But 
mostly it was with adults, and it was actually taking docent 
groups . 

Riess: Did they make an appointment, or would you just be there? 

Caldwell: I was on the staff, I worked full time. There were scheduled 
lectures and lectures to private groups, made by appointment. 

Riess: Were there other docents for the Fair? 

Caldwell: I hired one other person, John Forbes, to take over the Western 
part. Actually he was the father of the awfully nice woman 
whose married name I can't think of right now who is in charge 
of the Triptych, the little bulletin that they get out for all 
the [Fine Arts] museums. They [the Fair] had a spectacular 
collection, some of the great masterpieces of European art, 
Raphael's "Madonna of the Chair," and Botticelli's "Venus Rising 
from the Sea" as examples, and Rembrandt and so on. 

To me it was, of course, a bonanza to have all these great 
works of art, and to be lecturing with the approval of Langdon 
Warner, my great teacher. But people in the San Francisco Bay 
Area knew nothing, but nothing, about Asian art. And how could 
you look at a Chinese bronze or even a Chinese painting 
appreciatively without any background at all? 

That fair was the Golden Gate International Exposition, and 
the reason so little attention has been paid to it, you see, is 
that it ended just before the outbreak of World War II when all 
this anti- Japanese feeling arose. Some of the Japanese in Japan 
who had lent things there were arrested for having dealt with 
"the enemy," you know, and so on. It was a very, very bad time. 


Anyway, first I lectured on both the East and West, and 
that was too much for me to handle, so I hired that man to take 
the Western part and devoted myself entirely to the East. I 
would take groups by appointment --organizations would call and 
make appointments --or there were regular scheduled tours. And 
when I say tours, I didn't do the whole collection at once, I 
took different periods and different countries. 

Riess: In that short period of time how did you bridge the gap of 

Caldwell: Well, I think the few that came, the relatively few, to the 

Eastern side had some interest in knowing. They had at least 
lived in San Francisco and knew Chinatown- -which, of course, 
they didn't realize was not an opportunity to see great art. 

But anyhow, I think it was a very good training period for 
me in presenting unfamiliar material to the public, as I look 
back on it now. I felt like a missionary, you know. That was 
really a crusade . 

Riess: Was there any Asian art at the de Young then? 

Caldwell: Oh, very little, and very, very insignificant. 

Riess: And did the de Young have a docent program of their own? 

Caldwell: No, that was all much later. The whole idea of docentry came 
into the museum world much, much later. 

Riess: In any event, your public was sympathetic? 

Caldwell: Oh, they were mostly educated people. And of course, there were 
some that cared. 

Not very long ago, three or four years ago, they had a 
meeting on Treasure Island organized by Professor Burton 
Benedict here in the anthropology department at Berkeley, 
recapitulating the arts on Treasure Island. I was asked to 
speak, and the theme that I used was the contrast between the 
utter blank in people's minds in the San Francisco area about 
Asian art then, and now since the acquisition of the Brundage 
Collection and its excellent docent program- -the change that had 
occurred in those years . 

I used examples. I showed in the slides in that lecture 
the marvelous things, priceless works of art, that never had 
been seen before or since in the United States, that were 
examples of the highest quality of Asian art that were there [at 


Treasure Island] at that time, but that very few people knew 
what they were, and I talked about how much that situation has 
changed as a result of the programs at the Asian Art Museum. 

Riess: The priceless things that were there at the time of the fair, 
Langdon Warner was able to borrow them? 

Ca 1 dwell r Oh, yes, he knew everyone, you know. And he got permission 

because he just knew everyone. Most of the things that were so 
very priceless were from England. 

Riess: Not from the Orient? 

Caldwell: Some, but not all. That's another thing. The English, the 
French, and the Americans, have enthusiastically and 
intelligently, because of a certain few knowledgeable people, 
collected Chinese art particularly. And he got things--. One 
of the great collections of Chinese ceramics in the world is in 
London, it's called the David Collection, and they had never 
allowed any of their pieces to come to the United States before. 
Here were these great things to see . 

You can study Chinese art in America very well in many 
ways. I mean to say, obviously not the richness of China, but 
the accessibility- -it's so hard to see anything in many cases in 
Chinese museums, for example. But the Freer Gallery in 
Washington has one of the greatest collections in the world of 
Chinese bronzes. Cleveland, and Seattle, have wonderful things 
in Japanese art. One of the greatest collections of Chinese 
paintings in the world is in Kansas City. And so on. So there 
are plenty of places in this country where Chinese art was 
intelligently acquired and with great connoisseurship. 

Riess: And predating the Fair. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. The joke of it was that San Francisco always felt it 
was the Gateway to the Orient, and so here they were, most ill- 
prepared to understand what great Asian art was about. They 
thought that Chinatown represented Chinese art. And while there 
are charming things there, they weren't museum quality things, 
except from time to time. 

Gump's, of course, had some. They greatly exaggerated 
their expertise on their holdings, but occasionally they had 
some very beautiful things. And there were some Japanese 
dealers who had beautiful Chinese things, like the friend I 
spoke of earlier, Mr. Shiota. 


About Elizabeth Huff. Alfred Salmonv. Albert Bender, and Mills 

Riess: In Elizabeth Huff's oral history she says she met you through 

Langdon Warner. 

Caldwell: She came out to Mills College to study under a great Chinese art 
scholar, Alfred Salmony, a German. I think she got her master's 
degree at Mills College, largely drawn there by this great 
scholar, Alfred Salmony, who was teaching Chinese art there. I 
became--! will talk about Elizabeth first, and then a spinoff 
from that, but it is part of that whole question. I used to go 
and audit Salmony 's classes, though Dan was just a baby then. 

1 became very fond of Elizabeth, and found that she was a 
very depressed person, and 1 was so distressed about her 
depressions that I would invite her to our house. Jim liked 
her, too. She was a bit of an acerbic person, but if you got to 
know her, you liked her. I thought she was remarkable, but 1 
just worried about her. In the course of time, of course, she 
did- -the end of her life was very tragic. 

In any case, she used to spend weekends with us 
occasionally, and I admired her very much. She was the kind of 
scholar the like of which I could never be. But that's all I 
can say about Elizabeth, except later on she became head of the 
East Asiatic Library here [UC Berkeley] . 

But about Salmony, I would go out to visit Professor 
Salmony 's classes. Salmony was an extraordinary fellow, a very 
ungracious person. Albert Bender had given Oriental things to 
Mills, to Stanford, and to Cal, and they were all bogus. He 
didn't know it, bless his dear heart, but he had been taken 
advantage of by an unscrupulous dealer in San Francisco who had 
sold him all these things. 

Anyway, once when I went out in my little Ford car to audit 
Professor Salmony 's classes, standing beside my car was the 
almost six-foot figure of Aurelia Reinhardt, the most wonderful 
president Mills has ever had. Marvelous woman. She was a great 
friend of my mother and stepfather. 

She said, "Kath-er-ine--" all three syllables, and 
fluttering her eyes, "I have something very important to ask 
you. You have studied Asian art at Harvard, and I must ask you 
about Dr. Salmony. You know, he has said that our dear Albert 
Bender's things are absolutely fake. The Jewish community in 



San Francisco would like me to fire Dr. Salmony because of his 
attacks on Mr. Bender." 

1 said, "I love Mr. Bender as much as you do, Dr. 
Reinhardt. He's a dear family friend." 

"Is it true," said Dr. Reinhardt, "what Dr. Salmony says 
about our dear Albert?" 

I didn't know what to say. I felt terribly embarrassed, 
because I loved Albert Bender so much. But I said, "Well, Dr. 
Reinhardt, as I've said, I admire and love Albert Bender, but it 
is true what Dr. Salmony says about those works of art." 

"Then," she said, with decision, "I will not fire Dr. 
Salmony." And she lost I don't know how much money for Mills 
because of the anger of the Jewish community that Salmony had 
not been fired. 

That's all recorded by dear Jim Hart. I told him that 
story one time. He said, "That's got to be recorded." Later 
they arranged down at Mills to have a little tribute to Albert 
Bender. I said, "Jim, 1 don't want to say that." He said, 
"Yes, that's important to know." But I was really proud of 
Mills College, of course, the fact that they would stand up for 
scholarship in spite of the sadness. 

You know, Bender was an intimate friend of my mother and 
stepfather. I used to chauffeur him places. He would have been 
my guardian if my parents had died. That is, in the financial 
sense, I don't mean--. By that time I was too grown-up to need 
any personal attention. But he was very much a member of the 
family, and I was very fond of him. 

Later on, I wrote an article about Albert Bender for a 
national art magazine. It was a very pedestrian article, but 
anyway, it was an appreciative one. [appended] 

Did they de- access ion those works? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, they had to de-accession them, and so did Stanford and 

Riess: The Mills connection with the Asian community has gone way, way 
back. How were those bonds forged? 

Caldwell: I wondered about that, too. I have never quite documented this, 
but I think Mills was the first college west of Chicago that had 


courses in Asian art. I was told that Susan and Cyrus Mills 
lived in- -I forget whether it was Burma or whether it was India. 

Riess: They were missionaries? 

Caldwell: Yes. Anyway, they lived in Asia. I've always assumed that was 
the reason why Mills College turned in that direction. The fact 
that they taught anything about Asian art interested me. 
Somehow or other, they must have been influenced by that 
earlier- -but this was just a guess. I have an article somebody 
else that was interested in this gave me one time . I'll try to 
look that up before I see you next time. 

Riess: Was there any strength in Asian art at Berkeley? 

Caldwell: Oh, my. They didn't have anything about Asian art to speak of. 
Oh, there was one person, excuse me, but he was not a scholar, 
and it was more an appreciative thing. [Chiura Obata] 

A Series of Job Opportunities 

Riess: You have talked about Langdon Warner and how important an 

influence he was. Had it occurred to you when you first studied 
this that it was something you would want to specialize in? 

Caldwell: Not at all, I had no idea I would get into it. I majored in 

philosophy as an undergraduate, with no idea of what I was going 
to do when I finished college. This just fell into my lap, so 
to speak, but I didn't realize how much it was going to be a 
part of my life. 

Riess: How did it fall into your lap? 

Caldwell: The contact with Warner is what I am referring to, the 

opportunity that came my way unexpectedly. But I never had any 
expectation of teaching in a college. My master's degree at 
Harvard was in museum work. I had no thought --that's the reason 
I have no Ph.D.--I had no thought ever of college teaching. 

My first jobs in San Francisco as a recent graduate, the 
first one was at the Legion of Honor, the second one at the de 
Young Museum, and the third one at the Museum of what is now 
called Modern Art, in downtown San Francisco. I had no thought 
ever of doing college teaching. But at each of those 


museums incidentally, I wasn't bounced out of them, it just so 
happened that opportunities arose at each one of them- -I somehow 
or other got into educational work, was in charge of the 
lectures. And that got me interested in teaching. 

Riess: Please be specific about what you did in those earlier jobs. 

Caldwell: I had charge of the lectures for the members of the museums. 

The museums would announce in their calendars that there would 
be lectures on such-and-such a topic at such-and-such an hour in 
such-and-such a place, and day. Just as it is today; they do 
the same thing today. 

Incidentally, I was shocked when I got my first job at the 
Legion of Honor, to find that people who seemed to me should 
know better didn't know anything about contemporary art at all. 
I mean, contemporary then, Braque, Picasso. I had been over in 
Europe and in the East, and I couldn't imagine people being 
artistically so utterly bereft. So my missionary spirit about 
bringing enlightenment on art to the community started with 
Western art at the Legion, and then later the Asian art. 

Riess: You gave the lectures? 

Caldwell: Yes, I was the lecturer. I wasn't just organizing them, I was 
giving them. 

Riess: The lectures were in conjunction with exhibitions? 

Caldwell: Oftentimes. Sometimes they were little surveys of modern art. 

I must tell that as a part of getting a degree in art 
history, of course, if you chose Asian art it didn't mean you 
didn't have training in Western art. At a level of no great 
depth, but certainly more than the public. And so I gave 
lectures in Western art at the museums. It wasn't until much 
later on that I zeroed in on Asia. 

There would be lectures on Impressionism, Post- 
Impressionism, contemporary, and so on. And when I was at the 
downtown museum, what is now the San Francisco Museum of Modern 
Art, I would invite guest artists to come in. There is always 
this tension between art historians and studio people, and I 
thought I should give them a chance. 

It was very interesting to me to see the difference between 
the art historian and the studio person was that the studio 




person was so absolutely convinced of his own creativity, which 
had been formed by this or that particular predecessor, that 
there was no open-mindedness about other styles. That impressed 
me very much. And I decided that that was part of their own 
commitment, their commitment to their work; they couldn't do it 
any other way. 

You had them actually lecture? 

Oh yes, I'd invite them to do a lecture. I had a great deal of 
latitude . 

Grace McCann Morlev and the San Francisco Museum of Art 

Caldwell: By the way, it was under Grace McCann Morley that I developed 

this interest. She liked the fact that I lectured well, and she 
was the one that little by little put the whole lecture program 
inthat is to say, I didn't have to get out the publicity or 
any thing- -the whole lecture program in my hands. And that's how 
I got interested in teaching. It just fell into my lap. I just 
stumbled on it, really. 

When I say I was trained to do museum work, that sounds 
very vague, but you were supposed to learn how to oversee the 
hanging of pictures and so on, all the details of museum work. 
But it so happened that lecturing was my forte, and so that was 
the way I got into teaching. 

Riess: Essentially you had the same training that Grace Morley had. 
Caldwell: Yes, really, that's true. 
Riess: She was quite supportive of you? 

Caldwell: Veil, I think that the staff was very small, and the funding was 
meager. The City of San Francisco paid for heat and lighting 
and the building, but not for the staff. So of course she was 
limited in whom she could employ. As I was a novice at this, at 
teaching, she could get me at a very reasonable rate. 

Riess : But you were paid? 

Caldwell: Oh yes, it was paid. I don't think I have ever, until I 

retired, I don't think I have ever worked without compensation. 
It was a reasonable salary for the period. 


Riess: Did you have contact with the Women's Board? 

Caldwell: No. That was an interesting thing. I knew Elise Haas, and 

about the terrible tension that eventually occurred between her 
and Grace Morley. The reason for Grace Morley's dismissal from 
San Francisco was because Elise Haas did not appreciate --or 
approve, I should say- -the style of painting that Grace Morley 
liked. She thought it was too far out. 

Mrs . Haas happened to have been a friend of my mother and 
stepfather's, you see, I had grown up more or less knowing the 
Haas family, and Mrs. Stern, her mother, and I realized that 
this terrible warfare, almost, this intellectual and aesthetic 
warfare between Morley and Elise Haas, was building up which 
culminated in the dismissal of Grace Morley. Because my family 
had known the Haas family 1 had social contacts with them. So 
that's how I happened to know what was happening. But as a 
board, no, I didn't have contact with them. 

Riess: Did you talk with Grace Morley about that in those last days? 

Caldwell: No, not at all. 

Riess: Was Grace Morley a person you felt close to? 

Caldwell: It depends what you mean by closeness. It was not an easy 

relationship, I think. I heard later- -and to my astonishment 
because there was nothing in the world that would ever persuade 
me to take an executive, or an administrative post- -that she had 
some worry that I might want to be director of the museum. I 
thought that was hilarious. If ever there were anybody that had 
no interest in administration, it was I. That I just heard 
through the grapevine . 

In any case she had a lot of confidence in me , because 
later on when the World's Fair of 1939-1940 occurred on Treasure 
Island she suggested--. A little bit was her influence, not 
altogether. I can't tell you how naive and non-egotistical I 
felt about my job. I felt I was performing a rather minor job, 
with pleasure. But I just heard that there was a little tension 
on her part about that. 

Riess: Did you go back to the San Francisco Museum of Art after the 

Caldwell: No, I didn't. I left the Museum at the time of the Fair, and I 
lectured at the Fair the whole time --very well paid, by the way, 
for the time. After that I knew that somehow or other it 
wouldn't be a good idea to go back to the Museum. 


It was at that point, consulting with my husband, that I 
enrolled at the University of California graduate school, and 
with no idea of getting a doctorate. Incidentally, I never had 
any idea of getting a doctorate, because at that time in order 
to do museum work a master's degree was sufficient. And it was 
through studying with another great Asian scholar, Otto 
Maenchen, that the job at Mills College came about. 

Riess: Why didn't you feel it was a good idea to go back to the Museum? 

Caldwell: Two things. I think perhaps because I felt not so comfortable 
with my relationship with Dr. Morley. And partly because the 
scope seemed too limited. I had enjoyed lecturing there, but 
there came a time when I felt that my audience--. They were 
nice, well-educated, upper-middle-class women who never read a 
book, and therefore there was no exchange of ideas, no feedback, 
and I didn't want to do that kind of lecturing any more. 

I had no idea that anything so delightful and rewarding 
would turn up as the Mills position. When I enrolled at age 
forty in the graduate school at Berkeley, I had no idea that 
anything like the Mills job would ever come into my hands. And 
again, you see, this was because of my contact with yet another 
Asian art scholar [Otto Maenchen] that this happened. 

Riess: At the San Francisco Museum of Art you had the unenviable task 
of interpreting modern art? 

Caldwell: Actually, at that time it was not as difficult to interpret 

modern art as it is at the moment. I would be incapable at the 
moment of being able to adequately interpret what's happening 
now. But I was very much interested in contemporary art. I 
also gave lectures that went back into the 19th and early 20th 
century--! adore the Impressionists and Post -Impressionists. 
Actually I was free to lecture on almost anything that would 
interest the public. It didn't have to focus on modern art just 
because of that museum being modern in its emphasis. 

Riess: You created your own bank of slides? 

Caldwell: The museum built up their own, and I helped them do that. I 

would borrow slides from Berkeley- -no, Berkeley, come to think 
of it, didn't have very many at that time. No, we built up our 
own collection. 

Riess: Do you remember the names of studio artists you had lecture? 

Caldwell: I have no idea. People like Ralph Stackpole had long since left 
San Francisco. These are people whose names--! deliberately 


chose people who were coming up, rather than the accomplished 
ones, to give them a chance. 

Riess: Did Grace Morley have a veto? 

Caldwell: No. And that's another thing. I have had such good luck in 

being able to have almost complete freedom in every job I have 
ever had. She was extremely agreeable to work with on that 
point. If she gave you an area of the museum to take charge of, 
that was your job. Though sometimes I did have to stay late at 
night to help install new exhibitions, but I enjoyed that. 

There was one man who was kind of a jack-of -all- trades, 
with no academic background, but however knew a tremendous lot 
about contemporary art. I loved working with him, and would get 
his opinions about [Max] Beckmann, and all sorts of people I 
might not have been able to "see" perceptively without his 

Incidentally, Grace Morley did have trouble working with 
other professionalsnot just me- -from the point of view of her 
worrying about her own position. She need not have worried, 
because there was never any sense, I think, of competition at 
all. It would never enter my head, certainly. 

She had trouble with Elise and the Women's Board, and that 
might be understandable, because they were two very strong 
women. But the person whose name I can't think of who was sort 
of an assistant director, an awfully nice person, again had no 
sense of competition with Grace Morley, but Grace was always 
sort of nervous about this. 

I must give my positive opinion of Grace Morley: I think 
she did more for art history in San Francisco than anybody 
previously. She came to San Francisco where people, as I said, 
didn't know who Braque and Picasso were- -I mean the average 
educated person- -and she turned it all around. She really and 
truly put on exhibitions of a quality such as San Franciscans 
had never seen before. And I think that a great debt is owed to 

I think it's a shameful thing that at that museum that she 
just built up to be a great force in the city for contemporary 
art particularly, that there is no memorial to her, there is no 
room dedicated to her. There's nothing. And she really turned 
San Francisco around when it came to appreciation of 
contemporary art. 

Riess: Yet it was the contemporary art that Elise Haas opposed? 


Caldwell: Well, remember that was over a long period of time. They had 

worked together quite well for a while. I wish I could remember 
what exhibition it was that was the bone of contention, but it 
was one that Elise Haas particularly objected to from the point 
of aesthetics. 

Riess: Would Grace Morley have been a role model for you? 

Caldwell: Veil, not exactly, because I never had any desire to be an 
administrator of a museum. 

Riess : But a model of a strong woman in an academic field? 

Caldwell: Well, yes. Also, I was very grateful to her because she gave me 
so much freedom to conduct what I was doing for the Museum in my 
own way. 

Riess: Did you have a social life among the artists in San Francisco 
during the period when you were organizing the lectures at the 
San Francisco Museum of Art? 

Caldwell: Not really. That's another thing. Remember, 1 was working 

there, but my life was in Berkeley, and my social contacts were 
with the University of California. So that in a sense I was 
almost like a secretary going to a job and then going home. 
It's not that my job was similar, but from the point of view of 
an organization of one's life. After all, I was a housewife, 
mother, and I didn't have time to stay over in San Francisco and 
socialize. 1 had to go home and take care of my Job at home. 

Art History Graduate Studies. UC Berkeley. Faculty 

Riess: You were rare, weren't you, enrolling in the graduate program 
when you were forty? 

Caldwell: Oh yes, I can't tell you what a peculiar bird I was from the 
point of view of the other young graduate students. And of 
course I wasn't working for the doctoral program. By the way, 
when I saw the kind of life that those young people lived that 
were working for the doctor's oral I thought that was a horror I 
would never want to experience anyhow. 

Riess: But you were taking it all seriously. 

Caldwell: Oh heavens, yes, I was enrolled, and wrote thesis papers. I was 
not an auditor by any means. Otherwise I wouldn't have been 


able to demonstrate to Otto Maenchen my competence. And he 
could not have recommended me to the job if 1 had been an 

Rless : You were in school in 1946 , a time when the student body 
included a lot of returning GIs, an older population? 

Caldwell: Veil, I was very much the eldest of any other students I saw 
there . 

And there was another thing: there was a great prejudice 
against having older womenmiddle-aged equaled "old" at that 
time- -admitted to the graduate school because they didn't think 
they'd ever get a job. And they would be taking the place of 
some younger person for whom there was a brighter future ahead. 

But 1 didn't have any trouble getting in, somehow. And 
that had nothing to do with my husband being a professor there. 
I just got my transcript from Harvard, and there was never any 
question. Maybe it was because the art history department was 
smaller, and there wasn't as much competition as there might 
have been, say, in English literature, or engineering, or 
something like that. 

Riess: Besides Otto Maenchen, who were your major professors? 

Caldwell: There wasn't anybody else in Asian art. Of course I had to take 
Western art too, and write theses for my courses there. 

Walter Horn was a very important influence from the point 
of view of thoroughness in doing one's research. I'll never 
forget his bawling out a student in seminar because he gave a 
reference to the Encyclopedia Britannica. The idea of anybody 
in a thesis using the Encyclopedia Britannica as a source was so 
horrendous that you would have thought he was going to pick that 
guy up and whack him. It was a very tense moment. 

Walter Horn went over [to Europe] after the Second World 
War, you know, to identify works of art that had been taken from 
one country to another. When he came back he would talk about 
all these adventures he had, at dinner parties. 

Riess: Amorous? 

Caldwell: Yes. And of course his first wife left him for that reason. 
Anyway, he was a wonderful teacher. I don't want to gossip 
about his life of the heart. He was a remarkable teacher. 


Riess: To get this straight, you were just going for another master's 
degree at Berkeley? 

Caldwell: Veil, I had gotten my master's at Harvard, in museum work. I 

took the first course in the United States at Harvard in museum 
work. And that's why I did not go in for the Ph.D. program. I 
didn't need to, and furthermore, I really don't think I could 
have handled it. Women today seem to do this with the greatest 
of ease. I was not capable of handling a marriage and a Ph.D. 
program, not smart enough to do that, not efficient enough. 

Riess: But your husband was supportive? 

Caldwell: I think he might not have been very happy about my being in a 
Ph.D. program. I don't want to suggest for a moment that he 
ever lifted a voice against anything I wanted to do, but you 
know what the limits are of your relationship, I think. 

However, I honestly don't think I would be capable of 
handling a domestic life and a professional life in the sense of 
the Ph.D. program. Those young people whom 1 saw when 1 was 
studying at Berkeley, they wouldn't even go to a movie, they 
were so intent, they wouldn't do anything but bone up for that 
Ph.D. oral. Even if I had been capable of handling it, I 
couldn't have done that to my marriage. 

Riess: Your program was two years? 

Caldwell: Yes, and then the job at Mills was available, so that's how I 
stopped doing that. 

Otto Maenchen. and Anna Maenchen 

Riess: Tell me more about Otto Maenchen. 
about his wife. 

Or perhaps, first, tell me 

Caldwell: Anna Maenchen. Formidable woman. He used to say, 
pocket money, my wife, she makes the large sums." 

'I make the 

I knew them first socially. I can never forget how 
astonished 1 was when I met them. There weren't people here at 
all that knew anything about Asian art. I met him at a cocktail 
party, and I couldn't believe it when he referred to a very 
distinguished Swedish art historian, that anybody else knew who 


he was but me. [laughs] And that's how we started. It was a 
marvelous experience to meet somebody with the same interests. 

Riess: This was before you were in the master's program. 

Caldwell: Oh yes, yes, I met him a long time before I was in his class, 
long before 1 was a student. 

Riess : And how did you know Anna? 

Caldwell: I knew her more because later on I consulted her about my 

mother, and I had an enormous admiration for her professionally. 
But I think she was one of the most self -centered, hopelessly- 
egotistical people I have ever known in my life. She could 
never talk about anything but herself and her grandchildren and 
her life. She couldn't sit still; she would pace the floor. 
Even socially. 

Riess: Even after she stopped practicing. 

Caldwell: Oh, she never gave up practice until she died. 

But I had a great admiration for her professional 
expertise. She could zero in. She didn't take my mother on as 
a patient, but she sent her to a psychiatrist, somebody with a 
medical background, which she did not have. She gave me a 
referral, and I went to that person to consult about my mother. 
Then my mother was a patient of hers for a short time. She was 
able to diagnose my mother very quickly, the psychiatrist that 
Anna had referred me to for her. 

More on Treasure Island. Arts of the Pacific 

Caldwell: I cannot understand how Rudolph Schaeffer, who had such an 

extraordinary eye, and particularly for ceramics, doesn't even 
mention but once --this is quoting from him- -"There was an 
exhibition at Treasure Island." 2 No mention is made by Mr. 
Schaeffer of the Asian Art Museum at Treasure Island where the 
greatest works of art in ceramics that ever came to the United 
States from England were on exhibit. 

2 Ref erring to Rudolph Schaeffer, The Rudolph Schaeffer School of 
Design: Art in San Francisco Since 1915. 1992. The Regional Oral History 
Office, The Bancroft. Library, University of California, Berkeley. 


Not a word does Schaeffer say about the great collection of 
Asian Art that Langdon Warner put on at the '39- '40 fair. I 
couldn't understand how that could be. From the point of view 
of his sensitivity, how could he not have gone into ecstasies 
over this great, great collection? 

Riess: Did people go into ecstasies over it? 

Caldwell: No, and if you'd like to talk about that, if this is an 
appropriate time? 

Riess: This is an appropriate time. 

Caldwell: All right. This was the thing. In the first place, the 

exhibition emphasized, of course, contemporary art a great deal. 
So much of the literature that's now being written in retrospect 
about the '39- '40 fair has to do with the layout of the gardens, 
and the creativity that went into the individual buildings which 
represented the different countries. Perfectly appropriate, 
because that ' s what they had done . 

But the Palace of Fine Arts had the highest attendance of 
any concession, if you could call it that, at Treasure Island, 
more even than at the Gayway, which was the term they used for 
the amusement zone then. As you entered the arts building, if 
you went to the right you went to the Western section, and if 
you went to the left, the whole wing was Asian. But almost 
nobody went left because they didn't know anything about Asian 

One of the most tragic, heartbreaking experiences for 
Langdon Warner was that some miserable columnist in San 
Francisco wrote an article saying, "Nobody wants to go to the 
left when they enter the Palace of Fine Arts to look at the 
Asian art. Who wants to do that?" And that was a brutal blow 
to Warner, that the attendance to his exhibition was so sparse. 

Riess: Did you make an effort to get other coverage of the show? 

Caldwell: Suzanne, I am not a person that goes in for controversy very 

much. I cannot tell you my regrets of the things I did not do. 
I wish I had gotten in touch with some newspaper person, or even 
written something myself. I didn't do it. I don't seem to have 
the impetus to do that kind of thing. 


Art on the Gawav 

Caldwell: About the Gayway, there was one very funny incident. They had a 
nude who reclined like Manet's nude, the Olympia. Ve heard 
about this at the museum. A few of us went over on our lunch 
hour to get acquainted with this woman. Utterly ignorant. Just 
as ignorant as a prostitute. I don't mean that she necessarily 
was, but there she was, exposing her body for people to pay to 

And of course, she had never heard of Manet's painting. We 
got acquainted with her, and we invited her to lunch one day and 
brought her over to the museum and showed her a picture of the 
Manet. It was so rare--I was so enormously busy with my job, I 
so rarely had a chance to circulate in any other parts of the 
fair, but I thought that was a very worthwhile contact. 

Riess: Tell me, while we're talking about the fair, about the Art in 
Action section. 

Caldwell: Veil, the Art in Action section was something that I wasn't as 
observant about, except for [Diego] Rivera who was making this 
huge mural. He was up on a scaffolding with this big bottom 
hanging over the edge of it. There was a danger --be cause of the 
connection with Trotsky- -he might have been shot, and we always 
used to be so worried about his sitting up on this exposed 
place, way up high, painting. 

Riess: Was Art in Action a popular part of the fair? 

Caldwell: Oh, it was very popular. They had things ongoing, showing the 

creation of pots, and of course Diego Rivera. Dorothy Liebes--! 
can't remember whether they showed weaving or not, but they had 
lots of examples in her part of it of different kinds of 
techniques of weaving. She was introducing a great deal of 
metal at that time into her art. 

Riess: You have a letter about that? 

Caldwell: Well, this [letter] has to do with Langdon Warner, after his 
death. It doesn't have a date on here, a year date. "Just a 
line, Kay, that I've thought about your memorial "--meaning to 
Warner- -"but have been unable to locate any files which have any 
bearing on the story more than what you have. But I have 
thought of a perfectly marvelous memorial. Why don't you work 
for a grove of the redwoods?" 


And then she added, "As you know, the Langdon Warner grove 
would be a lovely memorial . The only other redwoods known are 
those in China. Walter and Elise Haas were here last night for 
dinner, and Walter's one of the leading people in Save- the - 
Redwoods movement. I believe you'd get much support for the 
idea. What do you think? --Dorothy." 

Friends of Far Eastern Art, and Other Early Interest in Asian 


Riess: There were two organizations about Asian art in the thirties. 
One was formed by Alfred Salmony, and it was called Friends of 
Far Eastern Art. Tell me what that was. 

Caldwell: Well, he was teaching at that time at Mills College, so in a 

sense it was based at Mills College. Unfortunately the data 1 
have, the file on that organization, does not list the people 
who belonged to it. But that is the organization which 
Schaeffer is referring to when he says that Ching Wah Lee was 
part of the Asian Art Society, as he refers to it [in the oral 
history], it's not the one that had to do with the Brundage 
collection. This [Friends of Far Eastern Art] precedes this by 
a good many years . 

Riess: Rudolph Schaeffer was involved in something called the East-West 
Arts Foundation, and he calls that the nucleus of the Asian Art 

Caldwell: I don't know about that in any particular--! just know that it 
existed, but 1 had nothing to do with it. 

Riess : Were there two groups , the Salmony group , and the Schaeffer 

Caldwell: No, Schaeffer was apparently involved in the Salmony group, and 
so was Ching Wah Lee. When Schaeffer talks about the nucleus of 
the [Ren6-Yvon] d'Argence Asian Art Society, well there was no 
d'Argence Asian Art Society, d'Argence was a curator. 

Mr. Schaeffer eventually, of course, was very much 
interested in the acquisition of the Brundage collection, but 
not initially a part of the organization that was promoting its 
acquisition. He was a Johnny-come-lately on art from the point 
of view of the Society for Asian Art. 

Riess: Can you say anything more about the Friends of Far Eastern Art? 


Caldvell: I had very little to do with that myself, so I can't really. 
The idea was to promote acquisition by private citizens, that 
was its point, to try to get people to collect excellent 
examples of Asian art. Because of the deception that had been 
practiced by dealers on potential buyers, people were 
discouraged in buying, particularly Chinese art, because there 
was too much disagreement about authenticity. 

At that time the unwary, unsophisticated collector would 
take the word of the dealer. Nowadays, nobody would dream of 
buying something without taking it to a museum curator, or some 
very, very highly qualified appraiser. I mean, there are 
excellent appraisers who are quite reliable, but in those days 
people Just thought anybody selling Asian art must know it, and 
that wasn't true. 

Riess: Were dealers on Grant Avenue reliable? 

Caldwell: I don't know about- -no, I don't think it was a matter of the 
ones on Grant Avenue being deliberately deceptive. I can't 
remember the name of the man that was a particular villain in 
this, the dealer, but he was a Westerner, he was not a Chinese. 

I'm not blaming the Chinese Chinatown people in their 
little shops. They didn't know, because they hadn't been 
educated, they had no academic background at all, and they had 
no intention to deceive. The dealer I'm referring to, whose 
name I do not remember, was definitely out to make sales and to 
make claims of authenticity which were not valid. 

Salmony came here and found there were people who had 
collected works of art which were of no historical importance. 
He founded the society with the idea of educating people, 
leading them into the straight and narrow path of authenticity. 

Riess: Too bad we can't think of some of the names of the people who 
might have been members . 

Caldwell: I've tried very hard in going back in the files at Mills to find 
data on this, and unfortunately I have not so far been able to 
dig anything up. I'm not quite sure why I was not very much 
involved in that organization. I was interested. Maybe it was 
because Salmony himself was an abrasive personality. But in any 
case, I was not on the board of that. I must have belonged to 
it, and I greatly approved of Salmony's trying to purify, from 
the point of view of authenticity, the standards of collection. 

It is important to straighten out the misstatements of Mr. 
Schaeffer, such a dear person. I knew him off and on, admired 


him as an artist extravagantly, and was amazed as I always am at 
the innate taste that some people have without any academic 
training at all. His academic training was in practice of art, 
but not of the history of it, and yet without any knowledge of 
the history of Chinese art he could recognize a great work. And 
his own collection was unbelievably authentic and aesthetically 

Riess: Did you see his collection in exhibitions? 

Caldwell: Veil, no, I used to go over and visit him. 1 didn't know him 
well, but nobody could fail to fall for his charm. He was 
friendly to everyone, and particularly gratified when people 
shared his enthusiasms. 1 never had any deep friendship with 
him, just an admiration from afar and occasionally going over to 
see him. 

Riess: Did his little gallery have some exhibitions? He had something 
called the East West Gallery, 1 believe. 

Caldwell: He had things on exhibition. I knew him when he was on Potrero 
Hill [after 1955]. Earlier on he had a studio near Chinatown 
[St. Anne Street], but I didn't know him at that time. For the 
historical record, it's important to make this distinction. 

Riess: Ching Vah Lee's collection was sold at Sotheby's for more than a 
million dollars. 

Caldwell: He had very fine things. 
Riess: Where was his collection? 

Caldwell: He had a shop in San Francisco. He was a dealer, and he had a 
shop in San Francisco. 

Riess: He was one of the scrupulous dealers? 
Caldwell: Yes. 

More on Graduate Studies 

Riess: In Stephen Pepper's oral history he talked about organizing the 
Ph.D. program in art history, which was first offered in 1948. 
The faculty for the program was Walter Horn, Oliver Washburn, 
Daryll Amyx, Otto Maenchen, and Eugen Neuhaus. Langdon Warner, 
whom Pepper knew and consulted, warned Pepper against Maenchen, 


saying Maenchen vas in the German school, and pedantic, and did 
not have a humane approach to art history. He said that he was 
a genuine scholar, but did not have a great breadth of 
appreciation. 3 

Caldwell: I'd agree with that about Maenchen. He was a meticulous, 

precise scholar. He was very skeptical of "appreciation." He 
was all for very carefully-phrased scholastic comments. He 
didn't want to emphasize aesthetics, because he thought that was 
imprecise. That didn't mean that he didn't enjoy looking at 
works of art, and he had some very beautiful ones of his own, 
but he did not want the word "beautiful" or words of pure 
appreciation used, because he didn't think they were precise 
enough. He was there to talk to you about the nitty-gritty of 
the history. And he was very severe in his classes. For some 
reason or other he did not want questions asked. 

Riess: Vas it something about language difficulty? 

Caldwell: Oh, he spoke English fluently. He had a strong accent. 

Riess: He had come from Vienna before the war? 

Caldwell: I don't know. 

Riess: Was he Jewish? 

Caldwell: Vas it he, or was it his wife? Or maybe both of them. 

Aurelia Reinhardt, the president of Mills, in a brilliant 
stroke had brought Maenchen, Salmony [1934], Alfred Neumeyer 
[1935], and Darius Milhaud, all to Mills College as refugees 
from the prejudice against Jews in Germany. Neumeyer never left 
Mills, whereas Salmony went on to a more prestigious 
institution, New York University. 

Riess: Pepper also said of Langdon Warner that he was more superficial 
and sentimental. 

Caldwell: Langdon Varner always was on the defensive for himself, always 
being self-deprecatory, because he did not have the academic 
background that other scholars had. In the course of time he 
has been faulted for inaccuracy. Yes, maybe he might have been 
sentimental in his relations with the Japanese colleagues that 
he had. 

'Stephen C. Pepper oral history, pp. 231-233, 



Caldwell : 

One of the reasons, of course, for the sentimentality 
towards him on the part of the Japanese was because of their 
belief that he saved Kyoto and Nara from being bombed. Warner 
was the last person in the world to toot his own horn, he was 
self -deprecatory, and he claimed this wasn't true at all. But 
the Japanese fervently believed that he had preserved their 
great artistic treasures, and they have a memorial to him at the 
Horiuji Monastery in Nara. 

I had the most extraordinary experience because I was a 
friend and student of Langdon Warner's in going to Horiuji 
Monastery. It's one of the oldest and most prestigious of all 
the early monasteries in Japan. It was a snowy day, and I went 
with a man named Wu who was a curator of Oriental art at 
Princeton, very tall and very haughty, and he said, "Don't be 
foolish. You'll never get into anything this day." 

There was a particular building I had wanted very much to 
see, which was kept locked and only opened to the public once a 
year. We had tea, as we always did, with the monks, and I 
mentioned that I was a friend of Langdon Warner's and had 
studied with him, and asked if it would be possible to see this 
particular place. They said- -this was in the morning- -they 
said, "Come back after lunch." So we walked around, and I was 
kidded by these scholars I was with at the very thought that 
they would do a thing like this. "No, once a year only." 

We came back, and after more tea they said, "In honor of 
the friend of Langdon Warner's we will open this temple." We 
trudged through the snow to this building. In there was a 
beautiful statue, almost human-sized, one of the most beautiful 
in Japan, called the Yunedono, and that's what I wanted to see. 
And they opened it. 

Because it was a religious building they then started this 
wonderful chanting. The snow was coming down, and the chanting 
was floating out on the snow, and we all bowed, of course, in 
deference to their religion. Then all of a sudden, the ceremony 
being over, they said, "Just go right up, go right in, and enjoy 
yourself." A great experience. And all because of my 
friendship with Langdon Warner. And oh, did I have the laugh on 
my scornful friends from Princeton. 

Pepper says of Langdon Warner that he might have come to teach 
at Berkeley, but that he was too old to be thought of. 

Langdon Warner didn't have the kind of strict academic 
discipline that the Ph.D. implies. However, Langdon 's great 
contribution to the history of Asian art in America was his 


appreciation, perception, and knowledge of Japanese art, which 
had not been appreciated here at all. 

He brought to the attention of scholarship and to students 
in his classes knowledge of works of art that they never would 
have known about. There had been a great deal of scholarship in 
Chinese art, but not Japanese, and he directed the attention of 
the scholarly world to the greatness of Japanese art. He, so to 
speak, for America discovered Japanese art. He did do some very 
good work on this . 

As time went on and the more searching, careful 
archaeological techniques were developed, he was not a part of 
that kind of discipline and knowledge. So he has been, shall we 
say, patronized in references to him by other scholars. On the 
other hand, 1 think anyone who knows the field would realize how 
much he did in introducing the field of Japanese art history to 

Riess: And he didn't read Japanese? 

Caldwell: No, in those days none of them did. Sherman Lee didn't. Alfred 
Salmony, the great German scholar who came over here as a Jewish 
refugee and was at Mills College for a while, none of that 
generation went in for studying Japanese, or Chinese, as the 
case may be. 

When 1 was a student at Harvard you were not allowed to 
study either Japanese or Chinese unless you were to make it the 
focus of your studies. You could not combine Chinese or 
Japanese, let's say, with history or sociology or art history, 
because they said the Chinese or Japanese languages were so 
difficult that you could not possibly use your time or energy on 
anything else. 

They said that because of the difficulty of these languages 
that you should collaborate. You should get somebody who is a 
specialist in Chinese or Japanese to translate what it is you 
need. When I was there, you see, in 1929, that position was 
held, and that's the reason I myself do not know Chinese or 

I am very anxious to point out that Langdon was not an 
exception in this; none of the scholars at that time knew 
Chinese or Japanese of his day. It was not until the Second 
World War when they had to have, particularly in Japanese, 
trained people who could deal with the Japanese language, and 
they had these crash courses, day and night, month in, month 
out. A dedication of unbelievable difficulty. 








Caldwell : 

Those years of graduate school were a very happy couple of 
years for me. I simply loved studying, and the smell of the 
library stacks. Then all of a sudden somebody at Mills who was 
teaching Asian art, a young man, he had a nervous breakdown, or 
some crisis occurred, and the dean of the faculty at Mills 
called Maenchen and asked whom he would recommend to take the 
job, and he recommended me. And that's how I got the job. No 
Ph.D. Of course, that would be out of the question now. 

Did you do any work at Berkeley in Asian history? 
Lessing, Peter Boodberg, Edward Schafer? 



I would audit classes sometimes, on my own. Yes, indeed. 
Boodberg particularly. He was highly specialized in the 
language ; he could lecture for two weeks out of the month maybe 
on one Chinese character. And such a character himself! What a 
wonderful man! He was a great experience to know. 

Edward Schafer was a brilliant scholar and wrote 
eloquently. He was one of the worst lecturers, ever, in the 
University. I used to try to audit his courses, but I found him 
so impossibly dull and non- communicative that 1 gave up on him. 
But I bought all of his books and was a great admirer of him. 

And when I got even more interested in Japanese art 1 did a 
great deal of study of history and sociology and so on. I went 
in greater depth into Japanese art than I did in Chinese . 

Were there Chinese or Japanese students in the art history 
graduate program? 

I don't remember any particularly then. 

Did you read in Oriental religion and philosophy? 

Oh yes, a great deal, but this I was interested in on my own, 
not necessarily through courses. 

Do you feel that you understand the Eastern mind? 

[laughs] Oh, does anyone? 

It seems important in being a student of their art. 

I don't think one ever can understand the Japanese mind. They 
are so ingrown, so limited in their judgments to their own 
culture. They can't understand other manners or customs than 
their own. They really and truly have a phobia against 
foreigners, they really have, for all their politeness. To 


understand the Japanese psychology and sociology is very, very 

And I should say I spent quite a long time on the Japanese 
language, I studied Japanese for quite a while. After Jim 
Caldwell died I immersed myself in this. So I have some 
knowledge of the relationship of the language to the social 
customs. The many layers and subtleties of language. For 
example , the male language and the female language , which is not 
only in respect to nouns, but actually verb structures. 1 did 
go in some depth into Japanese psychology in respect to 
language. I did an enormous amount of studying on my own. 

Job at Mills College. 1951 

Riess: After Otto Maenchen recommended you to teach at Mills, then 
what? Who interviewed you? 

Caldwell: Nobody interviewed me. It's really very odd. The dean of the 
faculty, at least at that time, seemed to have complete 
authority to hire faculty members, and she had consulted Dr. 

Riess: Who was that? That wasn't Mary Woods Bennett, was it? 

Caldwell: No, it wasn't Mary Woods Bennett, with whom I became very good 
friends later. I can't remember the name of the person who 
preceded her. 

Riess: Lynn White was president then? 

Caldwell: He didn't interview me either. I knew him socially, and I was 
very much drawn to him because he was a scholar- -in archaeology 
really. I used to love to go and see him and talk to him, 
because he was interested in Chinese art. 

But then Alfred Neumeyer very courteously welcomed me, and 
introduced me the first day to my class. He seemed to be very 
pleased to have somebody else there teaching art history, even 
though we were in such opposite fields. 

Riess: He was the department, essentially? 

Caldwell: He was the only other art historian at the time. Yes, he taught 
the whole of Western art, you see. There were other people in 
the faculty in the studio arts, sculpture and painting, and in 







ceramics --Mills College has always been distinguished in 

And that was its strength, the practice side. 

Yes. [Antonio] Prieto was there at that time, who died all too 
young. He was very distinguished in his field. 

An article about when you were teaching at Mills said that you 
were "the only contact with Asian culture for several 
generations of art majors, and other assorted students inclined 
towards exotica." That was the feeling, that it was the "exotic 
East" still? 

Well, that was the attitude of the public at that time. Even 
now they refer to Asian music in- -I can't think of the word- -but 
for example, down at the University of Southern California they 
specialize in Asian music, and in African too, I think, and they 
refer to it not as exotica, but some word that makes it sound as 
if it were not part of the mainstream. Which of course it 
isn't, according to our culture. 

1 studied a great deal about Asian philosophy, 
studied Buddhism and Shintoism. 

On your own, you're saying? 
Oh, yes. 


Lvnn White's Presidency of Mills 

Riess: One of the bits of history of Mills that I read was that Lynn 

White wanted to focus on Korean art at Mills, since he felt that 
Japanese and Chinese were covered by the sister universities. 

Caldwell: That's news to me. I never heard him refer to it. He was 

interested in technology, and at the time 1 knew Lynn best he 
was trying to discover the invention of the stirrup. [laughter] 
He was not interested in art history, he was interested in 
technology. And the Chinese, of course, are known for their 
extraordinary expertise in science --up to a certain point. 
There is a huge volume written on the scientific achievements of 
the Chinese by a great English scholar named [Joseph] Needham 
called Science and Civilization in China. 


Anyway, when I was going off to England with Jim on 
sabbatical, Lynn said to me, "Now, Kay, when you're in British 
museums, if you see anything that looks like a stirrup, let me 
know. " 

I didn't know anything about Near Eastern stuff, but one 
day I saw a little clay impression, not of a stirrup but of a 
little platform underneath the foot. It didn't have the curve 
over it. So 1 had a huge photograph blown up and sent it to 
Lynn. He published it in a book, and his acknowledgement was 
not "Katherine Caldwell," but "Mrs. James Caldwell." And I 
never forgave him for that. I loved my husband dearly, and 
socially 1 was Mrs. James Caldwell, but when it came to 
scholarship, I expected to be called by my own name. 

Riess: Do you think that was unconscious? 

Caldwell: No. I think that Lynn never really thought of women as 

intellectual equals. It was known that when we had social 
events at Mills he always gravitated toward the men faculty 
members. And then he wrote that book called Educating Our 
Daughters . and the point of the book was that since women's role 
in life was domestic, they should make an art of it. They 
should learn how to weave the material for their curtains, and 
do gourmet cooking, for example. 

I think that's the reason, among others, that he was asked 
to leave Mills College, though he was an excellent scholar. He 
went to UCLA after he left Mills, on their faculty. 

Riess: That was not tongue-in-cheek, all of that? 

Caldwell: No. Later on, at Wheeler Hall in Berkeley, Lynn was asked to 
come to comment on his book. Jim and I went- -Jim and I both 
liked Lynn personally very, very much. When the question period 
came, there was an awkward silence because nobody asked any 
questions. And Jim Caldwell said, "Now, Lynn, you know, the 
point of your book is to send women back to the kitchen." 
[laughter] That was pretty much the sentiment of his book. 

Riess: I wonder if, at that time at Mills, there was a lot of sympathy 
for that attitude. 

Caldwell: Well, they had a number of practical courses. They had a course 
in weaving, and I think that's a good thing to have in an art 
department. The Japanese attitude towards art is not to make a 
distinction between the arts and the crafts. 


Riess: I think that the education of women was not at its high point in 
the fifties. It was not the most enlightened time. 

Caldwell: Oh, no. It was not. The assumption was not made that a woman 
would have a career on her own, as it is today. It's the 
exception nowadays for a young woman not to have her own field 
of expertise or interest. 

Riess: Easton Rothwell was president of Mills from 1959 to 1967. 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. I was very fond- -everybody was fond of Easton. He's a 
lovable, charming man. He was another person who always gave 
the impression that the person he was talking to was the most 
interesting person in his life at the moment. Everybody had 
that feeling about Easton. And his wife, Ginny, with whom I 
keep up a friendship to this day, is a caring person too. 

Riess: Did he [Rothwell] have any particular interest in Asian studies? 

Caldwell: I never thought he had a special interest in Asian studies. 

Nothing in relation to my work at all. Just he was everybody's 
friend, really. I had much more in common with Lynn White on 
the professional side than I had with any other president of 
Mills. I was under three presidents there. 

Course Work in Art History 

Riess: You started out teaching art history, rather than Asian art 

Caldwell: No, my field was always in Asian art history, chiefly China and 
Japan. I had two courses. I was a part-time worker, employee, 
whatever, called a lecturer then. It was only later that I was 
given the dignity of the name of a professor. 

I had two courses, One was a survey course, which did 
include India up to a certain point. That was imitating 
Harvard, because at Harvard they had a course- -actually, it 
included the Middle East as well as the continent of India. I 
didn't know Indian art in any depth. I knew more than my 
students did, of course, but it was not my main interest. I 
felt because my training at Harvard did include India, and since 
Buddhism arose there, that Indian art should be included. But 
that was a limited area. 


My emphasis was on China and Japan. And each year I gave, 
in addition to the survey course, one year on Chinese art and 
the next year on Japanese art. 

Riess: And did you have to talk them into offering those classes? 

Caldwell: Oh, no. That's one thing. I think that's--! don't know how It 
is at Berkeley now, but in my husband's day at Berkeley the 
professor had enormous autonomy over his own classes. And 
similarly I had absolute freedom to do anything I wanted. It 
was very much a responsibility, and I tried very hard to keep up 
with current research. 

I would often audit classes at UC Berkeley. At that time 
the teaching of Asian art at Berkeley was limited. Really, 
Maenchen was the first expert they had. But my point is that 
they didn't break down the history of Asian art in terms of an 
expert in India, an expert in China, an expert in Japan. It was 
a survey course. This, of course, is still true at Mills; they 
haven't the money to have an expert in each of the 
civilizations . 

Riess : But when you were there , you did break it down into Japanese and 

Caldwell: Veil, yes, but my point is that nowadays the idea would be to 

have one specialist just in India, one specialist just in Japan, 
another one just in China. Asian art was not routinely taught 
in very many institutions then. 

Mills- -I really intend to document this- -I think Mills was 
the first college west of Chicago to have courses in Asian art. 
I'm fairly sure that's true. You see, the Millses, who actually 
founded Mills, were interested in Asia. They had been 
missionaries, in Burma, I believe. 

The Students 

Caldwell: In any case, I enjoyed the classes very, very much, and one of 
the things I want to say is that the students were excellent. 
The students really came to Mills to study. I don't mean there 
weren't exceptions, but for the most part they were very 
responsible, and they followed up on what they were asked to do. 
And of course, the classes were small and one could have a 
personal relationship with one's students. 


Riess: You had Asian students at Mills. 

Caldwell: Veil, yes, from Japan mostly. I had one student whose father 
was a Japanese representative in the United Nations. Very 
interesting. And then there was another girl from Thailand who 
was an ardent Buddhist. Mills provided rice for her meals three 
times a day, and she was such an ardent Buddhist, I remember 
once when she was home with a cold, telling the class to be sure 
to be very, very respectful when we talked about Buddhism. Not 
that they were ever disrespectful, but a little extra solemn 
maybe . [ laughs ] 

Riess: Did you find yourself feeling kind of warmly parental towards 
these girls? 

Caldwell: I don't believe in the parental attitude. I think just the 
opposite. I called them by their last names in class, which 
probably isn't done now, because I felt they were no longer high 
school students, and I felt they should be treated as adults. 
Even if they didn't always act that way. 

Riess: It would be hard not to be aware that you were in an all-woman 
atmosphere . 

Caldwell: In terms of the future, I thought of them as individuals- - 

perhaps because of my mother's role model as a person with a 
life of her own- -I thought of them as going out into the world, 
maybe in many directions. 

Riess: And you were kind of a role model for them, perhaps. 

Caldwell: Yes. And remember, I had grown up in Berkeley in coeducation, I 
had gone to the University of Wisconsin, a coeducational 
institution. And when 1 was at Harvard, my classes in those 
days were almost all in the Harvard Yard and not segregated. I 
had a couple of segregated classes, notably with Mr. Whitehead, 
but for the most part, I worked in classes that were 
coeducational at Harvard. 

So this was a new experience for me, to teach at a college 
that was all female. And 1 treated them more as if it were a 
coeducational one, I think. I never thought of them just 
as- -they were obviously women, but I thought of them as 
individuals . 

Speaking of Asian students, I had one very beautiful Indian 
girl from a very highly educated background. She spoke British 
English, and she had been brought up in a Catholic atmosphere. 
She told me about how much the nuns had wanted the students to 


be acquainted with the New Testament, and how they had to 
memorize long passages of it. The nun would, when they were in 
a circle, point to one girl and have her start out, "In the 
beginning was the word, and the word was with God," and then the 
next one carried on, and so on. So you had to be alert, and so 
familiar with the passage you could pick it up. 

After she'd said this, I said, "In that case, you must have 
been converted to Christianity." And a look of perfect horror 
came over her. "Oh, Mrs. Caldwell, no!" And she got up --this 
was in my off ice- -out of her chair, and she knelt down, and 
pressed her hands together, and said, "I worship Lord Krishna." 
I'll never forget. This beautiful girl. [laughs] 

Academic Life and Resources at Mills 







Ptess 1 

How did your classes fit into Mills' general program in the 

Veil, it was an elective course, except for people majoring in 
art history. So when you say fit in, it was never a 
requirement, and in a way I liked that idea. I liked the fact 
that the course was taken out of voluntary choice. 

Was there anything offered in the music department in Asian 

No. There was one very fine scholar in Chinese history, and he 
used to bring his classes over every so often to my class, so we 

And the scholarly atmosphere at Mills? Were you so much a 
commuter from Berkeley and part-time that you never got 

You mean in terms of my relationship to the faculty? Because my 
social life was in Berkeley, and I had my domestic 
responsibilities, I didn't spend much time on the campus outside 
of my teaching. I became acquainted with people in the art 
department, of course, all of my colleagues, and in dance. 
Eleanor Lauer, who was head of the dance department, and I were 
very great friends. And there were other individuals here and 
there. But on the whole I wasn't really integrated, let's say, 
into the faculty life of the campus. 

Did it have * strong faculty life? 


Caldwell: Veil, they did. It was very amusing, because until they built 
the Rothwell Center, which was partly for students and partly 
for faculty, a beautiful building, the male faculty members were 
very, very exclusive. They had what they called Kiva--you know, 
a kiva is an American Indian male retreat. They had a little 
building there, an awful little shacky building, that no woman 
could enter. 

And the story went that Aurelia Reinhardt- -this was before 
my time --that she was making a survey, and that she came and 
knocked on the door and expected to go in, and was refused 
entrance. The attitude was very- -this faculty was very socially 
segregated when I first went there, and it all changed after 
they built that Rothwell Center. 

Riess: You mean sexually segregated. 

Caldwell: Yes. And then the Kiva sort of dried up. So that later on- -the 
relationship now, and it has been I think for many years, very, 
very easy and very, very accepting of men and women socially. I 
don't think there's conceivably any division of the sexes on the 
faculty any more. 

Riess : You said that you knew Mary Voods Bennett quite well when she 
came in 1953? 

Caldwell: Yes. 1 greatly admired her. She was very sympathetic toward my 
courses, I think. I mean, I got that impression. Maybe 
everybody did. I was always impressed with what I thought was 
her fabulous memory, and I mentioned that to her, and she said, 
"I just write everything down." 

I did not participate in the Mills faculty committees. I 
was not obliged to as a lecturer. So I didn't have that 
interchange with other members of the faculty, except as I made 
friends on a purely social basis. 

1 think that I was impressed with the freedom that one had 
in teaching, and in ordering one's courses. I was impressed 
with the extraordinary seriousness of the students. 

Riess: Do they have a good library for those purposes? 

Caldwell: Well, Dr. Salmony, who had preceded me by quite a little while 

at Mills, had an extraordinary ability to raise funds, and there 
was a marvelous library up to that point. Much of it was in the 
little study, the little office that I had. So there really 
was, up to that point, a very good library with emphasis on 
Chinese art. 


Of course, it was realized that these students were 
undergraduates, were being taught at the undergraduate level. 
That's another thing; I was very, very glad that the master's 
degree in art history was cancelled. Neumeyer was sympathetic 
with this idea, because in order to present graduate work 
adequately, you needed to have specialists in many different 
fields, and at Mills there were only the two of us in art 

Riess: You mean there had been--? 

Caldwell: They had given a master's degree in art history, prior to the 

time I came there. And actually, the first few years, I think, 
when 1 was there. I was so glad when they cancelled that. 
Knowing by this time what they were doing under Walter Horn, and 
Maenchen, too, at Cal, and others, it seemed to me not really 
responsible for the institution [Mills] to give master's degrees 
in art history. 

Riess: Did teachings in Asian art history expand in those twenty years 
that you were there? 

Caldwell: No, and to this day, it's- -because only one person covers the 
whole field of Asian art, it couldn't expand. It could only 
expand by having specialists in each civilization, as Cal 
eventually did. 

Gallery Exhibitions at Mills 

Riess: What was your role in exhibitions in the Mills gallery? 

Caldwell: Oh, I put on a couple of exhibitions while I was there. One was 
Ed Grabhorn's very fine collection of early Japanese prints, and 
another one was a collection of Chinese ceramics that was owned 
by a professor at Berkeley and his wife. I put that on in the 
art gallery there. 

That was something I forgot to say: people teaching art 
history were expected to put on gallery exhibits from time to 
time, and that was the best one I put on, yes. 

Riess: Did you send your students to museums in the area? 

Caldwell: Oh, 1 took them to museums, yes, and I gave them little 

projects. It wasn' t--well, it was in '58 that we got the 
Br*<ndage collection, but it wasn't installed for a while. I was 


at Mills from '51 to '71, and eventually, in the course of a 
very long time, they installed the Brundage collection. 

Riess: But prior to that were there pieces that you could study? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. But what I did- -that's a good point, 1 forgot, and 
rather an important one . There was a little exhibition 
case --just one, on the second floor of the art building- -which 
was all locked up and had a little glass window. I would borrow 
from people in San Francisco very, very rare works of art. So I 
always had something original for them to look at. 

Riess: How did you manage that? 

Caldwell: I knew people in San Francisco who had rare objects, and 1 had 
portal -to -portal insurance--! wouldn't have dreamed of taking 
them in my car without that insurance. And 1 kept that going. 
It's very frustrating to teach art history with those little 
lantern slides. Something that might be three inches in height, 
say a little sculpture with high quality of craftsmanship, blown 
up on the screen might look like an enormous sculpture, and vice 

Having original works of art is the only answer to giving 
an adequate idea of what works of art are like. I'm glad you 
mentioned that, because that's not been carried on since, the 
constant exhibition of fine examples. 

Riess: You changed it how often? 

Caldwell: Oh, maybe a couple of months, maybe six- -I couldn't take the 
time. That's another thing, I spent so much more time on the 
course than I was paid for, but if you love a subject, you do 
this. But arranging to borrow these works of art took time, 
too, and getting them. 

Riess: Who were your sources in San Francisco? 

Caldwell: Veil, the Haas family. Elise Haas had some beautiful things. 
There were several people who had really pretty distinguished 
pieces. Not very many, but still enough. I only could show one 
or two objects. After all, it wasn't like a great big museum 

Riess: One of the things you did for Mills was build up their slide 

Caldwell: Yes, I did. I did that whenever I traveled. In 1958 I went to 
Asia, and I photographed a good deal. I gave all of my slides 


to the art department at Mills. I have some in my own little 
specialty of Japanese 16th to 18th Century illustrated books. 
Those I've kept, and they go to the University of California 
when I die because they are good for research purposes on the 
graduate level. 

Riess: That trip in 1958 was your first trip? 
Caldwell: Yes, I went for a couple of months to Asia. 

On my return from that trip, when I had my last look at 
first-rate works of Asian art in Honolulu, I felt so sad that I 
wouldn't see anything of any value in the way of Asian art until 
I traveled again, and I told Mr. Griff ing, who was director of 
the Honolulu Academy of Arts, how sad it was that San Francisco 
had no fine collection of Asian art. And he said, "Why don't 
you go back to San Francisco and get the Brundage collection?" 
(I should stop at that point probably, as we will speak more 
about that next time.) 

Riess: Were there galleries in San Francisco that would have been 

valuable places for you to take your students to visit, like the 
Marsh gallery? 

Caldwell: And Gump's? No. Gump's had a few good things, but they also 
had so many inferior things that it was not a good idea to 
confuse people. [laughs] 1 was opposed to Gump's because I 
felt that though they occasionally had excellent things, that 
they sold very poor things for the large part, wrongly 

Professional Crisis, and Resolution 

Riess: When Easton Rothwell came to Mills he raised the salaries? 

Caldwell: Yes. Oh, before that--. I just have to say that while Lynn 
White was there, I was fired, I was dropped, as an economy 
matter. Then a small sum was raised to keep me on for one year. 
And since the course was well-attended, they decided to give it 
again as part of the regular curriculum. 

That was a terrible crisis, I'll never forget it. I think 
I probably was more upset by that than any personal 
experience --that had to do just with me, didn't have to do with 


losing loved ones. That was a terrible crisis in my life. I 
couldn't believe it. 

They were dropping courses all over, it wasn't personal at 
all. There never was any problem about that. They were 
dropping other courses too, as an economy measure. The way 
Berkeley is now, just exactly the same situation. But it was 
such a terrible crisis in my life. 

I had given my whole effort to Mills College, so to speak. 
It was the focus- -well, I can't say my family wasn't the focus, 
but you know when you have a profession you love, how much you 
identify with it. In that sense, it was a very strong focus. 
And my children were grown and on their own, so it was a 
frightful, frightful shock to me. 

Riess: Did you look for teaching work anywhere else? 

Caldwell: No. You see, there was no time that it stopped, because of a 
private fund. But it was a whole year that I wasn't paid by 
Mills College, but paid by private funds. I never stopped 
teaching. But I was humiliated by the fact that I wasn't on the 
regular faculty. And then the next year, I was taken on again. 

Riess : How did the private funds come about? 

Caldwell: Well, it was largely my mother's doing. Henriette Durham 

[Lehman] contributed a lot of money to that. And then Dorothy 
Erskine and a few friends--. 

I was embarrassed. My mother was the one who initiated the 
idea of a private fund. I have to say, my mother was very 
distressed at my distress; I think in deference to her that I 
should record this . 

Riess: And she made a donation to Mills? 

Caldwell: Yes. Mother gave some, but not much. But mostly it was 

Henriette Durham and other people, a few other friends- -Noel 
Sullivan. Mother asked them, of course; I would never dream of 

Riess: To continue your position. 

Caldwell: Yes. One awful year. [laughs] Then Mills picked it up again. 

Riess: I'm glad I forced you to say that! 

Caldwell: I forgot--! guess it was such a humiliation to me that I 
unconsciously buried it, but I didn't mean to. 









So there was no teaching hiatus. 

No, there really wasn't, no, that's right. 

Neumeyer was terribly upset. He couldn't believe it, 
because he knew my classes had been so successful. 

Yes, and besides which, it would double his work. 

Well, he wouldn't take up Oriental art. Although the funny part 
of it was --and it used to infuriate my husband- -one year, 
Neumeyer on sabbatical asked me to take over his survey course! 
[tape interruption] 

Alfred Frankenstein- -do you remember who he was? 


He and I were friends. He was teaching American art there, and 
we were both lecturers. And about--! forget how many years 
before we each retired, they made us full professors. Alfred 
always said that was our gold watch. [laughter] 

But anyway, the title of "Professor" was an enormous help 
to me when I traveled in Japan, because status is so important 
there. 1 could have a card. It gave me an entree to places in 
Japan that I wouldn't otherwise have had. 

I know that the article about you from the Mills Quarterly in 
1971 referred to you as "Dr. Caldwell." 

I never got a Ph.D., and I always--! never claimed to have that. 
It always was embarrassing to me, or rather annoying, 
because- -you know, people. Sometimes even now over in the Asian 
Art Museum I'm referred to that way, and I feel it is 
inappropriate . 

Further Teaching Experiences 

Riess: After your retirement from Mills, you continued to teach in 
other programs? 

Caldwell: Yes, I taught at St. Mary's College, a most unhappy experience, 
You see, St. Mary's has no academic standards by which they 
admit their students --anybody can go there. I found the 
students absolutely inattentive; to evet< the raos*- xottc, 


pornographic, Indian sculpture they were indifferent. The only 
time in my life I couldn't make any contact with my students. 

Remember, they voluntarily enrolled in the course, it was 
not a requirement. When I was talking about the history of 
Asian art, starting with India, and I'd say, "In order to 
understand this art we have to talk about Buddhism." "We don't 
want to talk about Buddhism, we want to talk about Karl Marx," 
they'd say. 

Riess: That was in the early seventies? 

Caldwell: Yes, I retired from Mills in 1971, and it might have been a year 
later. But they were almost all sons and daughters-- because it 
was coeducational at that time- -of wealthy people who maybe were 
not able to get into other institutions. They hadn't much 
intellectual focus. 

Riess: Karl Marx is intellectual. 

Caldwell: Yes, it sounds so, doesn't it. I think that was just a way of 
thumb-nosing the course and the whole idea of academic study. 
It was just a manner of speaking. Might have been Karl Marx or 
anything else, anything but the subject under discussion. And 
this was very hard on me, because I felt that my one talent was 
to interest people that knew nothing about Asian art in the 
subject. It was a great personal defeat! 

I taught once in the summer at San Francisco State College, 
and I had something of the same problem, but not so acutely, 
insofar as they did not screen their students academically. So 
I had brilliant students along with students that were utterly 
hopeless. And I don't think I dealt with it very well, because 
I felt that in order to cover the material I had to offer I 
couldn't lower the standards. 

By the way, I taught a lot of courses at Mills to alums, 
Mills alumnae groups. Those were very pleasant, well-attended 
and very pleasant. They were serious and they read and they 
really behaved themselves! Not quite as serious as students 
enrolled as undergraduates, of course, because they were going 
to be graded and had a future ahead of them, academically. But 
they were extremely intelligent and responsive people, and 
interested in Asian art. 

I had done that kind of thing at the museums in San 
Francisco. But these were people, at Mills, who were more 
serious about learning. Even though they had no examinations to 


take, I could tell whether they had done the reading by the kind 
of questions that they asked. 

Riess: Did you end up leading them on tours to Asia? 

Caldwell: No. I was urged to do that, over and over again. All kinds of 
inducements of free travel and so on. But I never wanted to do 
that, because I felt it was too fragmentary and disjointed. I 
talked to people, friends of mine, colleagues, who habitually 
got their ride to China undertaking this kind of leadership. I 
had no interest in doing this at all. I had been on so many 
trips led by other people and saw how heavy the responsibility 
for detail was, and I just decided that I never wanted to get 

Riess: The other teaching experience was for the Fromm Institute of 

Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco. How were 
those students? 

Caldwell: The Fromm Institute was primarily for retired persons, hence 

senior citizens of advanced age. That was a funny thing. They 
were so excited, when I first came, not over me but over the 
thought they were getting a course in art history- -they had not 
had one for a long time- -so there was an enormous outpouring of 
people. But they didn't last very long, in terms of numbers. 

I understand that was more or less routine; whenever there 
was a new course, this happened. It was very, very 
disconcerting to have these numbers diminish. But the thing of 
it was , so many of them were hard of hearing and unable to focus 
for any length of time. And I think I should have adapted my 
material more to the audience, instead of treating them as if 
they were Mills College students. 

Research in Japan on Nara Ehon 

Caldwell: I don't know that I mentioned before that at one time I traveled 
widely in Japan visiting private collections and photographing 
works of art- -all books of one kind or another, either scrolls 
or actually in the Western sense a book form- -because I was 
interested in Nara ehon. which means illustrated books of Nara. 
(That term, Nara ehon was the invention of book dealers at the 
turn of the century.) These books were utterly anonymous, and 
had extreme variations in style, unlike Japanese art which is 
pretty much traditional in various schools within given periods. 


I got interested in this subject because of the 
extraordinary individuality shown among the many anonymous 
artists who contributed. My greatest contribution was to a very 
distinguished professor here at Berkeley- -actually she's at 
Stanford, lives in Berkeley- -who was a specialist in the 
literature that was used for those books. I was able to provide 
her, for the first time, pictures illustrating the text that she 
had been studying for a number of years . 

Riess: Did you publish on that? 

Caldwell: No, I never published anything on this at all, and that was 

because, while I had been encouraged when I was at the British 
Museum to go into this subject I had shown such an interest in, 
even without a fluent knowledge, let's say, of the Japanese 
language, I discovered in the course of time that I was really 
and truly encountering a stone wall not to know the language in 
depth. So I had really chosen a subject that was personally 
very defeating. 

Riess: The stone wall was academically. 

Caldwell: Not really. 1 had been told, or encouraged at the British 

Museum, that since these were all anonymous and you couldn't 
ever even date the books from the point of view of calligraphic 
styles, because they in turn were just traditionally copied, 
that it wasn't necessary to know the language. But I 
discovered, after dealing with these extraordinarily varied 
books , that not to be able to read the text and be sure you were 
getting every detail represented in the illustrations was 
frustrating. So I gave up any thought of publication. 

Among other things, the subject itself was scorned at first 
by my academic friends: "How can you be interested in such an 
insignificant part of Japanese art?" But then Barbara Ruch, a 
woman at Columbia University in Japanese literature, 
"discovered," so to speak, the illustrations to the literature 
she had been talking about for so many years . She then made the 
subject of these illustrated books a matter of prime interest. 
There was an international symposium in New York City some years 
ago, and the only illustrations that they had for this 
conference were my illustrations, that I had photographed in 
museums and private collections in Japan. 










I saw this subject, which had been down-played for so many 
years by my academic friends, raised to the most important 
research subject of the time. It was very amusing. 

Any appropriate footnotes? 

[laughs] Professor [John Max] Rosenfield of Harvard, who chaired 
the meeting, said I was "the grandmother" of this whole subject. 
But that was not exactly a remark that I felt was laudatory. 

By your "academic friends," who do you mean? 
to know the people in your field? 

Where did you get 

Well, I suppose because of symposia and invited lecturers. When 
you become very involved very seriously in any field- -I'm sure 
you know that in librarianship- -you get to know everybody. I 
attended many, many symposia, in New York, in Cleveland, in 
Chicago, and so on. Everybody knows everybody else. I didn't 
measure up to them, I never had a Ph.D. and had not done any 
publication. But they nevertheless tolerated me, to a certain 

How did you get onto the Nara ehon? 

I was always interested in any evidences in Japanese art of 
individuality, other than in certain periods where there are 
very great artists. The Momoyama Period for example, where 
there were great artists who were highly individualistic. But 
as a kind of folk movement, as a kind of people's art, there 
seemed to be much more conformity and much less individuality. 

There was an exhibition in Tokyo of these particular 
artists I got interested in, these anonymous people. I got hold 
of the catalogue and I went and visited the collections and met 
the people in Japan who had collected these works of art. And 
this was before it was popular: "Oh, what is she doing this 
for?" you know. 

When did you discover this work? 

Well, it was after my husband died. He died in 1965, and I then 
did a great deal of traveling. So it was probably in the 
seventies . 

Did you find that doors were open to you? 

Yes, I did. At that time they were extremely cordial to 
Westerners, and even to a Western woman. A Japanese woman 


wouldn't have gotten to first base, 
open to my inquiries. 

But they were very, very 

Of course, you always went with gifts. And I had, of 
course, to take an interpreter with me. I found an interpreter 
through the university at Kyoto, a student I would hire. And 
that's how I happened to do it. 

Riess; Do you have a manner that you adopt when you are dealing with 
the Japanese? 

Caldwell: Oh, I'm sure I was very inept. I don't think any Westerner, 

unless perhaps they had become residents of Japan for a quarter 
century, could ever begin to measure up to what's expected in 
courtesy in Japan. It's just hopeless. And they put on such a 
polite front that you're not aware of all of the terrible gaffes 
that you are making. 

I do know that the gift-giving is absolutely essential, and 
I remember dropping and smashing on the doorstep of a house in 
one of these remote villages a most marvelous bottle of Scotch 
whiskey that I had brought. I was always very nervous going to 
these places. In retrospect I feel I didn't fulfill their 
expectations in terms of etiquette, but I did the best I could. 

Riess: Is there any more on your work in Asian art scholarship that we 
have not discussed? 

Caldwell: I've probably said before that the reason I went to Asia as 

often as I did after my husband's death was, first of all, he 
and I traveled a great deal in Europe, particularly in London, 
and I wanted to go places where we had never been, and not 
remember those companionable days. The other thing was, of 
course, he had not had any interest in Asia whatever. So just 
immersing myself in Asia served two purposes. 

Continuing Professional Relationships 

Riess: Have you what you would call proteges among your students at 

Caldwell: I have a number of former students from whom I hear from time to 
time about how much the opening up of the field of Asian art had 
meant to them, when they'd travel and see these works of art in 
the flesh, so to speak, that they had only seen in terms of 


lantern slides. Even now, after all these years of retirement, 
I quite often get some kind of reassurance of that kind. 

I have one student who is very, very accomplished in the 
field of Chinese studies who started at Mills with me. But it 
is a pretty highly specialized field to go into in any 
university. And in small Mills College, which emphasized 
general culture, it was particularly unusual to find anybody 
continuing in the field. 

I think that through Mills College, which gave a certain 
status to the teaching of the subject of Asian art, I was able 
to exert an influence in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. 
I always felt that it was important for Mills to have contacts 
with the larger cultural world of San Francisco. So while I was 
teaching there I also kept up my contacts with the museum, and 
therefore also Mills 's contacts with the museum, which has 
proved to be a very fine relationship with the woman who is 
teaching Asian art there now, Mary-Ann Lutzker. She is doing an 
excellent job of making a liaison between Mills and the museum. 
Her specialty is East Indian art. She is one of their [Asian 
Art Museum] most valued decent teachers. 

Katherine Caldwell, Professor of Art, Mills College, 
circa 1960. 

Photograph courtesy of Mills College 



The Germ of an Idea. 1958 

Caldwell: Now, the Brundage collection, let me tell you how it all 

started. I was very much distressed, as was Salmony, by the 
fact that well-intentioned San Francisco collectors had no 
background for judging what to buy, and that we had no 
collections of any importance in Asian art in the Bay Area. At 
the same time, we loftily called ourselves the Gateway to the 
Orient. We had Chinatown, we had Gump's--and that's another 
story: Gump's often times had beautiful works of art, but they 
also had many things that were not of quality. In any case, the 
point of it was we had no great works of Asian art. 

I had gotten my degree at Harvard where I had worked, in 
connection with my classes, in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 
and had learned what great works of art of Asia were like. And 
as 1 have told you, in 1958 I took my one long trip away from my 
home, and went for two months to Asia alone. I had letters to 
all sorts of people, and I went to a number of countries, India, 
Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and especially Japan. 

On the way home, I stopped at HonoluluI told you this. 
And there I stopped over to see the then-director of that 
remarkable museum of Asian art, Bob [Robert] Griff ing. I really 
stopped over, in addition to seeing their beautiful collections 
of Japanese and Chinese paintings, to have a chance to reinforce 
our friendship. And over lunch or dinner I bemoaned the fact 
that, "Bob, I won't see any first-rate Asian art until I travel 
again, I've got to go back to that Asian- art bereft city of San 
Francisco. " 

"Well," he said, "why on earth don't you get the Brundage 
collection? It's up for grabs, every city wants it, and Mr. 


Brundage has been very disgruntled. He's broken his ties with 
the Chicago Art Institute, where his things have been kept. Why 
don't you go back and start an organization to acquire the 
Brundage collection for San Francisco?" 

He said, "There's going to be a United Nations conference 
in San Francisco next year, and I'll be there, and I'll come and 
give you a lift." 

A Lunch Meeting 

Caldwell: Veil, so I came home, and was of course enormously impressed 

with this idea, and followed a custom that my husband and I had 
had of, if we'd been absent for some time from the Bay Area, 
getting together with our dear friends the Erskines, Dorothy and 
Morse Erskine. The four of us went over to Mt. Tamalpais, 
stayed overnight, and had lovely, long conversations at 
breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

Again I, so to speak, wept on Dorothy's shoulder, in the 
same way I had to Griff ing, about the lack of an Oriental art 
collection in San Francisco. She said, "Oh, Kay," in her 
beautiful voice, "why, that's something we must do something 
about." (Dorothy didn't know about Oriental art, though she had 
great taste and some beautiful things. She, however, was a 
catalyst, and she always got people together that she felt could 
help one another.) 

She said, "I'll arrange a lunch. You must not let this 
opportunity go by. I'll arrange a lunch, and I will invite to 
it some very powerful women in San Francisco, and you must tell 
them about the importance of getting the Brundage collection." 
Which she did. And at the lunch were Marjorie Stern, Alice 
Kent, and there's one person whose name I must provide for 
you- -I can't think of it right now- -who was really a resident of 
Portland but living in San Francisco. These are the people who 
came to the luncheon. 

At the luncheon I spoke passionately about the need to get 
the Brundage collection for San Francisco. They were aware of 
it, and this is one thing, in retrospect- -how shall I put it?-- 
sometimes when people are involved later on in an organization, 
they forget when their interest began. And they had known of 
the existence of the Brundage collection, but had not had any 
particular impulse to do anything about it. 


But at this luncheon, in any case, I told them about its 
importance, and then and there we decided to form an 
organization to try to get the Brundage collection. The actual 
organization took place at the home of Marjorie Stern. And this 
is where- -if the question is, who started the Society for Asian 
Art- -you see? 

I've always said it was my idea, but it would never have 
been implemented without these powerful women. So it was a nice 
balance of talents or whatever, associations, whatever you 
want- -of backgrounds. Never in the world as a college 
professor, or as a Berkeley academic wife, could I have moved 
the city of San Francisco to do anything about getting the 
Brundage collection. These women knew their way around city 
hall and were wonderfully, wonderfully effective. 

Selling the Bond Issue 

Caldwell: But that's the way it all started. And then the question was, 
Mr. Brundage, like so many self-made men, wanted something in 
return for his money. If he were going to give this collection 
to San Francisco, he wanted them then to build a wing for it, 
paid for by the taxpayers, not by Mr. Brundage. And that meant 
a bond issue, and this is where our effectiveness was shown. 

I don't mean to say there weren't- -after all, a public 
relations organization was hired also. There was a great deal 
of paid, Madison Avenue-type publicity for this, and promotion. 
However, what we did was to go to organizations, like the 
[International] Ladies Garment Workers [Union], and people--. 
You see, we had to reach people who had no background in Asian 
art, and who nevertheless were being asked to have their taxes 
increased in order to acquire this collection. 

How on earth could we reach hairdressers and taxicab 
drivers and whatnot? Not to put them down, but simply their 
background did not include anything about Asia. 

Riess: And how did you make that connection? 

Caldwell: Well, I remember going to the International Ladies Garment 

Workers Union with slides and a projection machine, and showing 
works of art from the Brundage collection, and then asking if 
they'd like to ask questions about the works shown. 


I'll never forget, the one question that was always asked 
was why are the Buddha's ears always long? And this is so easy 
to answer, because when he was in his pre -Buddhist life he had 
worn as a young prince heavy jewelry, and the heavy earrings had 
pulled his ears down. When he renounced all of his worldly 
life, he took off all his jewelry, but the ears remained 
elongated. It was such an easy thing to satisfy questions of 
that kind with the tradition. Of course, this is all you might 
say myth, but that's the tradition of how this happened. 

So, we went to many, many organizations to sell the idea of 
acquiring this collection, and to emphasize its distinction and 
beauty. Very difficult on the beauty side for people who were 
raised in the Christian tradition of art, of course, or just the 
tradition of Western realism, representationalism. 

Riess: Did you feel that you had to overcome some racism also? 

Caldwell: I had no feeling about that at all, no. That never entered my 

But this is what we did, and then we had somebody in the 
organization- -this is not my brain wave at all --somebody in our 
organization had the idea of having fortune cookies made with a 
little "VOTE FOR THE BRUNDAGE COLLECTION" in it when you opened 
it up, all sorts of gimmicks of this kind. 

Riess: Did you have strong support from the Chinatown residents? 

Caldwell: You'd expect them to be supportive, but no, the Chinese have 

only more recently become interested in their own culture. In 
fact, we had one last year who was the president of our society. 
The recruitment of help from the Chinese community came late. 
Now it's enthusiastic, and much later, long after the 
acquisition of the Brundage collection, there is a society just 
for Chinese art in San Francisco. These people now take pride 
in their traditions. 

Riess: And how about recruiting the Japanese community? 

Caldwell: There are a few Japanese women who are strong workers in the 
Society for Asian Art at the present time, but they have not 
been as prominent- -numerous, let's say. The ones that have 
worked are superb, but they haven't been as numerous as the 

Riess: But in the original group of women? 
Caldwell: There were no Asians at all. None at all. 


Riess: Were there any Asian curators at the de Young at that time? 

Caldvell: No. None at all. There are several now, in the Asian Art 
Museum, but not at that time. 

Riess: I'm trying to take the pulse of that time. 

I can very well picture you doing the slide show for the 
garment workers, but did Mrs. Stern and Mrs. Kent also do that 
kind of thing? 

Caldwell: Well, they were great fund-raisers, you see, and they also were 
very much in touch with the bureaucracy of city hall, trying to 
get the mayor and other high officials in San Francisco city 
government on our side. Their function was largely persuasion 
of people at a higher level. I was working with the hoi polloi. 

Riess: Was anyone else working with the hoi polloi? 
Caldwell: I don't remember anybody doing that. 

Dorothy and Morse Erskine 

Riess: Did Dorothy Erskine stay with it? 

Caldwell: She did not work on it. No, she had done her part. You see, 
Dorothy believes, as does my wonderful Save the Bay friend 
across the street, Sylvia McLaughlin, that in order to get 
anything done in this world, you have to stick to one topic. I 
remember once saying to Dorothy, "Dorothy, I don't hear you 
express any dismay about our incarceration of Japanese citizens 
during the Second World War." 

"Oh," she said, "Kay, of course I care, but I have to focus 
on the environmental problems of the Bay Area." So that 
explains her not being involved. She would, of course, support 
--I should probably say financially --our organization, but she 
wasn't a street worker on it, so to speak. 

Riess: Tell me about the friendship with Dorothy and Morse Erskine. 

Caldwell: My mother and stepfather knew them, and then Jim and I became 

just as close in friendship as Mother and Pops had. We used to 
see them on our own, apart from my parents. 


They were more your contemporaries? 


Caldwell: Well, they were sort of in between. They're a little bit older. 
Dorothy I think maybe was just under a decade my senior, 
something like that. But that didn't seem to make any 
difference . 

Just as a footnote, after my husband died they invited me 
every month for a whole year up to Calistoga to their country 
retreat. It was a really caring kind of friendship. 

Riess: And what was Horse Erskine? 

Caldwell: A lawyer. He was of course very supportive of Dorothy's 

interests, but she was the one who was really the mover and 
shaker when it came to these organizations that she espoused. I 
would suppose there's never been anyone more effective than she 

Dorothy Erskine had a great love of beauty. She had 
nothing in her house that wasn't beautiful, whether it was an 
electric light fixturemy stepfather was the same 
way- -everything was beautiful in her house. She had the 
ability, which I have never learned, to throw away things that 
you are not using. 

Riess: Did you go to the homes of Mrs. Stern and Mrs. Kent? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. We met in private homes. That's another thing: all 

our meetings took place in private homes. And at that time- -the 
situation has changed spectacularly for the better at that time 
these people had no academic training, Mrs. Stern, and 
eventually Marjorie--now Seller, but she was then Bissinger. 
She, by the way, was not in that initial luncheon group, but 
later, not too much later, Marjorie then-Bissinger , now- Seller, 
came into the organization and was enormously helpful. 

Riess: Was she better trained? 

Caldwell: No. Well, she had actually acquired some Chinese works of art 
of quality, and she was very active and an effective promoter. 

The Purpose of the Society for Asian Art 

Caldwell: When we had our first meeting, and later on, I was so eager that 
the organization should not become what I called a flower 
arrangement organization, a superficial travelogue type of 
lecture given, that we should have, like the Oriental Ceramic 


Society of London, a wonderful organization of dedicated, not 
scholars, but collectors of great knowledge who would meet 
together and show their respective collections to one another. 

I wasn't thinking in terns at that time that we were going 
to necessarily have sessions of exhibiting our private works, 
because there were not enough around to show, but the idea was 
that we would have a lecture program to inform the public. The 
important mission of the Society for Asian Art is to educate the 
public in Asian art. 

The attitude here -to -fore toward Asian art had been purely 
decorative, almost a temporary effect in your home. However, I 
had been in London for quite a bit and had known the scholars of 
England and the people engaged in all sorts of professions that 
had nothing to do with Asian art. But nevertheless, the kind of 
training they have in the educational system in England seems to 
encourage continuing education after your degree. They have a 
deep desire for the knowledge. 

So there are a number of people in England who have fine 
collections of Asian art. They weren't scholars, but very well 
informed. And they had formed the Oriental Ceramic Society, as 
I mentioned before, with the view of excellence: "How can we 
find works of art that we can buy or look at in museums that are 
of the finest quality of their period?" 

And this was my mission in starting the Society for Asian 
Art. Let's not make it a lecture system, educating the public 
superficially. Let's really make it scholarly, not dully 
scholarly, not heavy, but to give people an idea of what really 
are the finest products that Asia has produced in various media. 
And I just preached this over and over and over. 

My husband also became very much interested in the society, 
and he helped a great deal on phrasing some of their literature 
and handouts. They were very fond of Jim, liked having him 

Rene-Yvon Lefebvre d'Areenc^ 

Riess: What other academics were important? 

Caldwell: Not any at that time. That came later. Remember, this was 
before the University of California had James Cahill. And 
d'Argence\ who was the first curator at the Asian Art Museum, 



was not part of our group. As a matter of fact, we had some 
problems with him in terms of hostility. 

You invited him? 

Caldwell: Well, he came to some of our small meetings, yes. But we always 
had disagreements about how to- -what to buy and what to use 
available purchase money for. 

For example --this all occurred in 1958, by the way- -once 
the Brundage collection was installed, there was an 
international symposium on the collection, with scholars from 
all over the world of very high quality. And of course, 
d'Argenc^ was very vocal on that, as curator. 

After we had this symposium we had a surplus of maybe- -it 
doesn't sound like much money now, $20,000, but then it did. I 
think the surplus represented a surplus which was left over from 
the money that was appropriated for the symposium. And I'm not 
sure how that money was raised. 

I must say another thing, that we in the Society for Asian 
Art made a great point of befriending Mr. Brundage. We 
entertained Mr. Brundage. And he was extremely nice to women, 
and he was very rude to men. One of the reasons we had such a 
hard time getting a director for the Asian Art Museum was 
because Mr. Brundage alienated, by his rudeness, so many men. 

He also had a strong anti-Jewish prejudice, so that no Jew 
would he accept. And why, you might say, would we have to defer 
to him? Well, it was just part of our desire to show 
appreciation of his gift, and to exert what influence we could 
in the choice of a curator for the Asian Art Museum. 

Riess: You said that d'Argence was distressed because of your purchases 
from that $20,000? 

Caldwell: I didn't complete the thought there. We had an advisory group 
then, and on the advisory group were people who were in the 
academic world like Cahill and [Michael] Sullivan, and me, and 
then a few society women, the society women that had worked very 
hard. And an example of a problem we had with d'Argenc6--you 
know, eventually he left under quite a cloud- -we would say, 
"We're short on Chinese painting, why not get a Chinese 

He'd say, "Oh, no, I need a computer machine," or something 
similar. We were trying to use the money for art, he wanted to 
use it for office equipment. The scholars in these meetings 


that were charged with determining the use of the surplus funds 
all wanted to put the money into art, and he wanted to put It 
into office equipment. And we had terrible clashes. They sound 
petty, but they were violent, and vital to those of us that 
wanted to see the collection increase. 

Riess: When you bought a Chinese painting, it would be put into the 
Brundage collection? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes. 

Riess: And it would be called part of the Brundage collection? 

Caldwell: Yes, it would be. 

Riess: Did Brundage have to approve selections that you made? 

Caldwell: Interestingly enough, I don't think he did. However, there was 
another problem when it came to Japanese art. 

But to complete that thought, d'Argenc^ then developed 
hostility toward all of us who were in the academic world, even 
wouldn't let us have access easily to the collections that were 
in storage. We had a very hard time with him. 

He [d'Argence] was originally a professor at the University 
of California. He was very much disliked, and he spent a great 
deal of his time traveling with Mr. Brundage, but prior to the 
acquisition of the collection. If Mr. Brundage would say, 
"Come, I want you to go to Switzerland, there's an auction," and 
so on, d'Argence would leave his UC Berkeley classes and go. 
(Incidentally, d'Argence, as a European, knew how to handle Mr. 
Brundage, and could take his hostility to men and deal with it.) 

But d'Argence then saw the writing on the wall that he was 
not going to be kept at UC Berkeley. And Jim Cahill then 
succeeded him. I'm not quite sure of the order of the events, 
but in any case, by the time this money was available after the 
symposium, Cahill was here and on this committee. 

Riess: If d'Argence had been a long-standing friend of Brundage' s, can 
we say that d'Argence was important in getting the collection? 

Caldwell: Oh, yes, absolutely. No doubt about that. 

There's just one other amusing incident, an intimate 
exchange I had with d'Argence. We, all of us, the scholarly 
people, wanted catalogues for the different civilizations --the 
Cambodian, the Chinese, the Japanese --printed as soon as 


possible for the information for the public. We were all 
interested in making this collection available to the public. 

Another possible use of the money, if you weren't going to 
spend it on painting, was to get specialized people, not in 
d'Argence's specialty, to come and edit these catalogues. And 
d'Argenc said to me, "Rather ine, Mr. Brundage has said 1 am the 
only one who can edit the catalogues." "Well," I said- -and he 
never forgave me for my reply- -"then you must believe in 
reincarnation, Yvon, because nobody could do all of that in one 
lifetime." [laughs] 

I thought these little personal things might be of 
interest. I don't know. Are they too petty? 

Riess: No, they're not too petty. Did all of this happen in 1958? 

Caldwell: Veil, no. I've forgotten which month the symposium took place. 
This was ongoing for the year or so afterward, 1 would say. 

Riess: What was the purpose of the symposium? 

Caldwell: Well, it was to publicize and make known to the public what was 
there. It was a huge international affair. Funds were raised 
to bring scholars who couldn't afford it from Japan and China 
and Korea , everywhere . 

Riess: There are stories of the machinations of Brundage, toying with 
people, later issues of money and getting the rest of the 
collection, and paying for purchases. Did you have a part in 
any of this? 

Caldwell: No. I knew Brundage quite well, but not more than socially. He 
was very anxious to get a tax write-off, you see, for giving his 
collection, and he once approached me about making some kind of 
a statement, as a Mills College functionary, to further that 

The Decent Program 

Riess: What more did you do, how were you involved, after the success 
of acquiring the collection? 

Caldwell: Oh, then the idea was to organize what became this remarkably 
successful decent program. We had two functions: one was to 
have lectures, which usually occurred once a month. 



Cal dwell: 






The Society sponsored lectures? 

Oh, yes. The Asian Art Museum and the Society for Asian Art are 
two separate entities. The Asian Art Museum is funded by the 
City of San Francisco. The Society for Asian Art is entirely a 
private, voluntary organization, that has one little dark room 
for an office in the building. 

But the thing of it is that our efforts to get the Brundage 
collection, the Society, all of this existed before they had 
found a director and set up the mechanism of the Asian Art 
Museum, which is a city- funded organization. Our efforts 
preceded the formal finding of a director, and setting up the 
bureaucratic function for running the museum. 

The women who raised the funds were raising funds to house the 

Yes, and the funds were raised by a bond issue. That is the 
money that paid for the wing for the Asian Art Museum. 

Were there men in the early days of the Society for Asian Art? 

Yes. The husbands were all involved, they all came to these 
meetings held in private houses. For a couple of years, I 
think- -I'd have to check that- -we met in private houses, and set 
up our priorities. We felt once the collection had been 
acquired, the next thing was to make it available to the 
citizens of San Francisco, so they'd know something about it. 

And that's where I feel that our function was so important, 
because it wasn't just supposed to be confined to the elite, but 
to reach out to the schools and to the public at large. The way 
to do that, of course, was to establish the decent program, and 
so we started that. Again, just as I had urged that the quality 
of the lectures be serious and specialized, so we felt that the 
people teaching the docents, preparing the docents , should be 
people of quality, academic quality. So those were our 
contributions, I think, to the education of San Francisco. 

Was there a docent program already in place in other collections 
in the de Young? 

I don't think so. I may be wrong, but I think that came after. 
We have to check that to be sure. 

Setting up the docent program, who really set that up? 


Caldwell: Actually, many of these women who had previously not known about 
Asian art were themselves acquiring libraries and studying, so 
that the function of any academic was rather an educative one. 
I mean to say, we didn't go in for the bureaucracy of the thing. 

They set up an advisory board, at first entirely- -well, it 
still is, with one exception- -composed of people in the academic 
world. This was the advisory group, the one on which I still 
serve. And that's where the scholars came in, in terms of 
helping to set policy. 

Riess: Did they teach in the docent program also? 

Caldwell: Yes. And some of them for a while were graduate students from 
the University of California. 

Riess: They were paid to do this? 

Caldwell: When they eventually got people of the status of Cahill and 

Sullivan, I think that they paid them. In my own experience, I 
was paid for individual lectures from time to time. But of 
course, these society women all donated their time. 

At first the docent program was a very small undertaking. 
I, at the beginning, had charge of the Japanese art, and yes, I 
was paid a small sum. Now the teachers, the professors, are 
paid. And of course, many of the lectures in the docent program 
are given by the curators of the museum, who are of course on 
the city budget. 

Riess: It's probably the most scholarly docent program I've heard of. 

Caldwell: Yes, I think it is. 

Riess: People can take the classes and not become docents? 

Caldwell: Yes, anybody can come if they pay a fee. That's perfectly true. 

It interested me very much that in the beginning the 
society ladies, so to speak, would not introduce a speaker, 
because they felt they didn't know enough. We would always be 
the ones to introduce whoever was going to speak. Now, for 
several years, they have studied so much themselves, and they're 
so confident in public speaking, which they were not originally, 
that they take over all of that function. They are completely 
competent to get the scholarly material together on the 
speaker's background. I am much impressed with that, and very, 
very admiring. 



Riess : 







At the sane time that they were becoming so expert, they were 
probably also becoming collectors? 


Has there been a boom in collecting in San Francisco? 

I would ask Pat Berger, one of the curators, for facts on that. 
I wouldn't know how much would be a boom. There aren't, after 
all- -I mean, works of art of the quality we want are an enormous 
price, so you couldn't have a really popular group of 
collectors. That wouldn't have been possible. 

The Adrian Gruhn CourtRoom and the Cyril Magnin Room, what do 
they represent? 

Well, we were just awfully glad to have people donate money. 

Did you solicit money or gifts? 

No, I did no fundraising or soliciting. 

Mrs. Adrian Gruhn, for instance, was she a board member? 

She might have been a board member. 

Jan Fontein. and the Asian Art Museum Directorship 

Caldwell: You have to make a distinction between the Society for Asian Art 
and the Asian Art Museum. The Asian Art Museum set up its own 
staff, and we are, as I said before, voluntary. They are an 
established city function. 

Riess: Was that the result of some problems within the museum? 

Caldwell: Veil, there were a lot of problems. See, originally the idea is 
that they had one director for the entire museum, both East and 
Vest. Now, want to turn that off a minute while I think? [tape 

Before there was a sufficient appreciation of expertise in 
the Asian field on the part of the community they invited Jan 
Fontein over here. Here he had a fine position at the 
Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and they wanted him to leave that for 
a temporary trial in San Francisco. Of all impractical ideas, 


how anyone could give up a very fine, prestigious Job to come on 
trial! And so, of course, that was out of the question. 

Jan Fontein told me- -I became quite well acquainted with 
him- -he told me that he didn't see how you could ever be a 
director of a museum in San Francisco and carry on any scholarly 
work, because every museum director is expected to be at a 
dinner party every night. He thoroughly disliked the idea of 
coming to San Francisco for these reasons, and he turned it 
down. Eventually he got to the Boston Museum, far more 
prestigious. The Freer and the Boston are in a different 

Riess: Clarence Shangraw? 

Caldwell: He was studying here at Berkeley with Cahill. He came later. 

Riess: Was it Brundage's requirement that there be a separate Asian art 
commission, a separate organization associated with his 

Caldwell: Yes, absolutely, he wanted it to be separate. And eventually 
that's what happened, that the administration of the Asian Art 
Museum is autonomous. This he insisted on. That was not the 
original intention, but Brundage very much wanted it to be that 

Stories of Averv Brundaee 

Caldwell: I was on the search committee to try to find a director, and a 
problem in getting direction was Brundage himself. I'll never 
forget one of the funniest experiences I ever had. I was down 
in the basement, and Brundage --this was when they were opening 
things in his collection. The then-curator of Asian art from 
the Freer Gallery in Washington, wonderful man, was there, and 
Mr. Brundage would say, "Now, what's this? What's this?" 

"Well, Mr. Brundage, it could be 12th Century, or it might 
even be 18th Century." On and on and on, never "It's such-and- 
such." Finally Brundage said, "Well! Since you don't know, 
then my opinion's just as good as yours!" 

This I say not in too much scorn of Mr. Brundage, because 
he didn't at that time understand the difference between the 
educated and the uneducated guess . Eventually he came to have 
respect for the scholar, but at that time he just thought, "If 





you can't say it's such-and-such, then I'm just as good as you 
are," you know. And that was of course a problem for a highly 
educated person. But he did learn, he did learn. 

Because of the Olympics committee, and the businessman and 
ports connection, had he friends in town? 

Did he have friends in San Francisco before? I don't know about 
that. But he made friends with patrons of art in the city. 

But I have to tell you one more thing, if you don't mind, a 
personal thing with Brundage. He had his collection in Chicago, 
as you may know, and he yanked it out of the Art Institute 
because of some dispute with that museum. In fact he really and 
truly had a frightful difference of opinion, to put it mildly, 
with the director of the Chicago Art Institute. There was a 
hotel that he owned in Chicago, the LaSalle Hotel, and he stored 
in room after room after room works of art he had collected. 

He had urged those of us who had been working with him in 
the Society for Asian Art, if we ever came to Chicago, to get in 
touch with him. My husband was busy with something else, so I 
called up Mr. Brundage and he said, "Oh, come and have dinner 
with Mrs. [Elizabeth] Brundage and me. That will be just fine. 
But let me show you first my works of art in the LaSalle Hotel." 

This is what he did: he'd open a door, and it would be 
jammed full of, say, Thai sculptures. You hadn't had a chance 
to look at a thing before he slammed the door. He wanted you to 
see how much he had, not the quality. Door after door was 
opened, and you would be dying to really examine something, 
slam, slam, slam. 

I went out to his house for dinner, just with him and Mrs. 
Brundage. She was a charmer, and he was terrible to her. 
Everybody knew how rude he was to this lovely Mrs. Brundage. 
She would say, "Now, Avery, I think Mrs. Caldwell might like to 
see such-and-such in those drawers." Getting up from the table 
as if she'd asked him to go and take some castor oil or 
something, he would open this desk and roughly take some of 
these things out, or else open something she had not asked to 
show. It was the most terrible evening from the point of view 
of relationship to husband and wife I've ever had. 

Was she expert herself? 

I don't really know what to say about that. I have no idea. 


Another time, Jim and I were down in Santa Barbara. He 
[Brundage] really and truly liked to be approached, you know. I 
think he was insecure and lonely. So he very much liked to have 
people look him up, because Jim and I were not people who look 
up somebody Just because they were a big name. Anyway, we went 
down there one time and had a similar experience of being 
welcomed and shown around. That was before those things down 
there burned up. I just thought you might be interested in 
those personal experiences . 

Riess: Did you ever talk with Mr. Brundage about any specific pieces? 

Caldwell: No, I never wanted to, after having witnessed this scene that I 
spoke to you of before when he felt that he knew as much as 
anybody else. I never talked to him about art at all, only 
about how to get his collection for San Francisco, and how to 
get him some kind of a tax deduction. He was obsessed with 
getting a tax deduction. 

Riess: When Griff ing in Hawaii said, "By all means, get the Brundage 
collection," what was there for you to see at the time? 

Caldwell: I had seen pictures of things that were in the Art Institute in 
Chicago. Bronzes, mostly. The Chinese bronzes were the great 
thing. The Chinese bronzes are by far the most distinguished 
things in his collection. 

Activities of the Society for Asian Art 

Caldwell: I had something very touching yesterday. Two of the women who 

are on the board came over. They're dear friends, and they came 
over because 1 had been sick, but also they wanted to have a 
little private group on the Japanese art here at my house. 
Isn't that nice? I don't know that I can do it or not. 

Riess: A study group? 

Caldwell: A study group, yes. It's nice. 

I wanted to resign from the board because I thought I was 
too old, not doing enough. They insist I remain. When I went 
to the annual advisor's meeting last Sunday I just had a 
wonderful time. They're awfully welcoming to me, all of these 
people. I went over with Jim Cahill and David Keightley. David 
Keightley is a great, great scholar on early Chinese 








archaeology. He figured out from early inscriptions on animal 
bones when the Chinese language was formed. [tape interruption] 

Was the group always called the Society for Asian Art? 

The official name? This I must tell you about, and another 
thing- -two things I must tell you. We had a great to-do about 
what to call it. It's the Society for Asian Art, not 


Ours was really an educational organization. We had Monday 
night lectures- -not every Mondaywith scholars. Because our 
budget is small we try to be alerted about distinguished people 
coming on their own budget through the city, and then nail them 
down for a lecture, because we can't pay to have them come just 
to lecture to our Society. 

One of my contributions to the Society for Asian Art was 
the suggestion that we establish a scholarship for a graduate 
student in Asian art. At first, they were very recalcitrant, 
but now they are very, very proud of the fact that we have a 
fund for a graduate student in Asian art. And I've been very 
much interested in that. 

And this fund allows them to study in the collection for a 
period of time? 

Yes. And there's another thing the Society does that is very, 
very generous and civic-minded, and that is that they will fund, 
to the extent of their financial ability, an exhibition in 
another place, for example at Mills. Several times they have 
financed, say, a catalogue for an Asian art show there, or 
something like that. Maybe at Stanford. Which I think is very 
broad-minded, not just a little insular sort of closed 

When they have the lectures are they advertised widely, or is 
this just for the membership? 

Oh, they get out a regular bulletin, and those are very 
interesting. I'm glad you brought that up. Because they have 
articles in them by scholars, as well as notices of people, of 
coming events and so on, and a list of the officers of the 
society. But they are oftentimes very interesting. 


Harrv Packard 

Caldwell: There is another story in connection with the Brundage 

collection that I should put in here, and it is in the category 
of regrets about things 1 did not do. We could have had one of 
the great collections of Japanese art for $1 million, which the 
Metropolitan bought for $2 million. 

There was a man- -Harry Packard was his name, he's still 
alive- -another one of these amazing people with no academic 
background who had incredible taste. He was an American, but 
bilingual, and he was in the army at the time of the occupation 
of Japan. He Just went around buying these beautiful Japanese 
works of art for nothing. His collection was housed for several 
years in the basement of the Oakland Public Library main 
building for earthquake and fire purposes. Mr. Brundage was 
prevailed upon to buy it, but at that time, Japanese art was not 
of any interest to him. 

The reason I mention that now is 1 wish 1 had just gotten 
out and blown the trumpet, gotten hold of wealthy people in San 
Francisco and said, "We mustn't lose this." I didn't. 

He collected it during the occupation, and then it stayed in 

Yes, he lived around here, and he just brought them here. But 
it became known that these things were of very great value . And 
there they were . I can wring my hands over not having done 
anything about that. I am just not a mover and shaker. 

Riess: Brundage knew the collection? He had seen it? 
Caldwell: Oh, yes, he was approached to buy it. But no. 
Riess: Why wouldn't he? 

Caldwell: Well, it didn't interest him. There are some very fine Japanese 
works of art now in the Brundage collection, but for some reason 
or other this didn't take with him. And of course, it would 
have been hard, I think, to raise a million dollars for it. But 
even so, I have regrets. 

Riess: In an essay on Brundage in the catalog, The Art of Japan: 

Masterworks in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco [published 
by the Asian Art Museum, 1991] I read that Harry Packard had 
created a notebook for Brundage on dealers, et cetera, in Japan. 




Caldwell: I didn't know that. 

Incidentally- 'here's another storyHarry Packard and 
[Otto] Maenchen eventually became good friends, but I remember 
once they had a frightful and embarrassing confrontation. 

Riess: What was the story? 

Caldwell: Well, Harry Packard had no academic background, certainly not in 
art, but he was always kind of poking his nose in here and 
there, and he just appeared one day with his baby in Maenchen' s 
class. At that time I was studying at UC Berkeley, and of 
course I was attending Maenchen' s class, and Packard came in 
with the baby and sat there, reclined for a long time. And then 
he put his hand up because he wanted to ask a question, and 
Maenchen did not recognize him. 

He did not put his arm down, he just kept it there for at 
least ten minutes, maybe longer. Finally he said, "Mr. 
Maenchen, are you going to let me ask my question, or are you 
afraid you won't know the answer?" I was there! I heard that 
with my own ears! And so of course, there was a great animosity 
that built up. In the course of time they became friends, and 
when Maenchen went to Japan, Packard was very, very hospitable. 

Riess: If Packard had no background how did he collect? 

Caldwell: I think it's largely his own what I call- -well, like absolute 

pitch in music. It's something inborn. It was the second time 
I've seen that. I may have told you, when I was a graduate 
student at Harvard they admitted one student whose grades were 
not quite acceptable. And he was the one that was always right 
about identifying something- -he was a C student who was always 
A-double-plus on identification. 

Riess: Earlier Brundage had offered his collection to UC Berkeley, to 
UCLA, to Stanford. 

Caldwell: He offered it so many places, I can't remember exactly which 

museums. You see, he did have conditions about public financing 
of the building. It wasn't as though he were willing to finance 

For example, the Atkins Gallery in Kansas City, the Nelson 
Gallery, the man who left that building had the good sense to 
know that the distinction of the building depended on its 
contents, and he left a huge purchase fund. Incidentally, 
Langdon Warner comes in on that, because he and his most 
brilliant graduate student, Laurence Sickman, went to China 


before the communist revolution and boughtone of the greatest 
collections in the world of Chinese painting is in Kansas City. 
This is apropos of the attitude of someone who leaves funds. 



Caldwell: [Talking in Kay's study] This little room I dearly love. It's 
always a mess, Suzanne, but it is my favorite room. It's where 
I live, a good deal. 

That is a Hassam, one of our great American Impressionists. 
Maybe it doesn't hit you, that "Moonlight," but I love that one. 
That goes to the Achenbach Collection in San Francisco [Fine 
Arts Museums, Palace of the Legion of Honor] when I die. Childe 
Hassam did all three of these pictures. This one is a 
watercolor, and this one's an oil. 

And that is a picture of Colonel Vood, painting with Hassam 
in the Oregon desert. This is Pops--"C.E.S.W. "--and this is 
Hassam. That's the reason the picture is here. 

Riess: In shirt-sleeves in the desert. 

Caldwell: And that is the painting, "Thunderstorm on the Oregon Trail." 

Riess: What about the portraits? 

Caldwell: Those are not done by anybody of importance. Those are my 

children. My son's hair- -he didn't have any hair until he was 
eighteen months old, and then every hair came in a little curl 
like that. And poor Sara, with her straight her. Of course, 
nowadays straight hair is "in." 

Riess: This portrait on the steps [descending to the living room] is 
Colonel Wood? 

Caldwell: Yes. It was not done by a famous artist, but it is absolutely a 
verisimilitude. It is absolutely exactly the way he looked. 




And this, also of Colonel Wood, is a Stackpole drawing, 
a drawing for a sculpture? 

Was it 

Caldwell : 


Caldwell : 

Caldwell : 

No, he didn't ever do a sculpture. He did a sculpture of me, 
but he didn't do one of Colonel Wood. That's a funny thing. I 
wonder why he never did. I guess they commissioned him to do 
the one of me. That's downstairs, and it goes to Mills College. 

What about this chair? 

Well, Mother and Pops had the chair. You see, it's not my 
style, it's English, and I happen to like Chinese furniture, 
heavy stuff. 

That's a Tibetan tanka that Mother and Pops had. I don't 
ever remember seeing it up, in their house. It's a very nice 
one. It has an inscription on the back of it that was 
translated by somebody over at the [Asian Art] Museum. It comes 
from a temple in Lhasa. 

The dining room means a lot to me because I've had 
heaven-knows how many, innumerable, countless, small dinner 
parties. My idea of the best way to entertain is at a small 
dinner party, preferably six, a maximum of eight. My husband 
always used to say, in this room, that the whole idea of a small 
dinner party is group conversation, and he used to pound on the 
table if it weren't. Which of course a man can do better than a 
woman! [laughing] 

[In dining room] This furniture came from Los Gatos? 

Yes, practically everything, except the little Scandinavian 
piece over there. 

Was it imported from China in a suite? 

[laughs] Oh, no, Mother and Pops never did anything in suites. 
Everything was individual for them. Actually, they never used 
this dining room table, they didn't like this table, and they 
had a large 17th century English dining room table at Los Gatos 
that held a great many more people than this one does. 

This was bought in Chinatown? 

Yes. See, they lived up on Russian Hill, just above Chinatown, 
and you could walk down there. And in the twenties there was an 
abundance of furniture from mainland China. 


The Korean vase over there is very special. That goes to 
the Asian Art Museum when I die. It has a rare design on it. 
It's 18th century. It's something that Pops had bought at some 
time or other, and I happen to love it. I have had offers for 
it a great many times . There is a collector down in Los Angeles 
who would like to have it, but I've turned him down. 

I'll tell you something funny about that: he would come 
back every year and offer me more money for it. And I would 
say, "But Bob, I like it, I want to keep it 'til I die." And 
then I said, "I'll tell you something"--! lowered my voice, I 
whispered it to him- -I said, "I'm saving it for my ashes." Of 
course I didn't mean that, but he went as white as the vase and 
never asked me for it again. 

Riess: Why is it particularly special? 

Caldwell: You have to know about Korean ceramics to know. The design on 
it is unusual . 

This Japanese print, the Utamaro, is of no value because 
the color has long since faded, long before I inherited it. But 
[James A.] Michener, the great authority on Japanese prints, was 
here one time at dinner and he said, "Doesn't it look beautiful, 
just as a design on the wall?" which I thought was a very 
gracious thing for him to have said. 

There's been many a dinner party here, of people of all 
kinds and descriptions. Jim used to feel that we should never 
have a party that was just all academic. 

Riess: What about this Ray Boynton, Kay? 

Caldwell: I think he must have been doing things like that, designs of 
that type, when he was working on the mural at Mills College. 
On the other hand, it's very similar to what he did at Los 

Riess: It is about 8" by 18", inscribed, "To C.E.S.W. on his eightieth 
birthday." Ray Boynton. 

Caldwell: Have you seen Mother and Fops's bookplate? It was taken from 
the design he [Boynton] did for their big mural down at Los 

Riess: Was this wall originally panelled? 

Caldwell: No, that has cardboard behind it. And my husband put all 

this--. It looked so perfectly terrible with the redwood [and 


cardboard]. We would never have covered redwood, of course, but 
it was a terrible cardboard, and my husband had the brilliant 
idea of covering it with this [grasscloth] and that's what he 

Riess: When you bought this house- - 

Caldwell: --in 1941, by the way-- 

Riess: --had there been major changes to the house? 

Caldwell: No, no major changes. After all, it was an architect-designed 
house. Ve wouldn't have made any major changes. 

Riess: Did you buy it from the people for whom it was designedby John 

Caldwell: No. It had been in more than one hand. 
Riess: You did say it was John White? 

Caldwell: That is what [Kenneth] Cardwell thinks. But Mrs. White told me 
that Maybeck designed it. So there you are. I think they 
worked together so closely that until Maybeck' s name became so 
much more famous they made little distinction as to who did 

Riess: And what year was the house built? 

Caldwell: Three years after the Berkeley fire, in 1926. 

Riess: I love this sofa. Maybe it's just the cushions. 

Caldwell: Yes. That's again this combination of Chinese with Chinese 

designs on the big cushions, and the Persian ones on the other. 
Pops didn't care about that, he just wanted beautiful things. 
And if you look at pictures you can see how it was arranged in 
their own house. 

I wonder, does it look differently than when Jim was here? 
A lot of things were rearranged because my mother died after Jim 
died, so that some of this furniture came from her house, and 
after his death. 

Riess: The scrolls on either side of the fireplace? 

Caldwell: I got those from Jim Cahill. They are Japanese, 18th century. 


And over the fireplace, that's something quite interesting, 
that's a rubbing from a cave, a Buddhist cave in China. It's a 
rubbing right from the original stone; it's not a photograph of 
a rubbing. It's of a flying deity. Can you see the garments 
blowing in the wind? And the pattern underneath that looks like 
a plant, is not, it's a convention for clouds, in Chinese art. 

I felt that it was important that we have something airy 
over there, flying up in the air. Originally we had a Calder 
mobile here. It was loaned to us, and it was quite beautiful, 
but it fell down one day. And it was made up of great big iron 
pieces , and had anybody been under it they probably would have 
had their head split open! So we never put it back, we gave it 
back to Peggy Hayes, Calder 's sister, who had loaned it to us. 

Riess: How did that fit in to this house? 

Caldwell: It looked wonderful. The house absorbs almost anything 

beautiful, you know, it doesn't matter what civilization or 
period it comes from. 

The wood block print over there was by a famous Japanese 
priest named Nichiren, and I got that from R.E. Lewis, quite a 
famous print dealer. He lives in Marin County and he has a 
mail-order business for the most part. He is so famous he 
doesn't have to maintain a showroom. 

Riess: When you went on your many trips to Asia did you bring back 
important pieces? 

Caldwell: No, I never had any money to do anything. I never bought 

anything, no. No, I never did at all. Anything I have of any 
value I have inherited. I did buy that Nichiren, but very few 
[other things] . 

A friend of mine gave me the flying Bodhissatva. She had 
lived in China, and knew absolutely nothing about Chinese art at 
first- -she knows a lot now- -and she had a huge chest full of 
these beautiful rubbings. (A rubbing is done by inking whatever 
you are going to imprint on your paper, and putting this wet 
paper down on the stone.) Anyway, she had an extraordinarily 
fine collection of these rubbings that she had acquired when she 
lived in China. She was an artist, and not an art historian, 
and she had an instinctive appreciation of these beautiful 
things . 

Riess: Your bookcases, they look like they are full of old editions. 


Caldwell: The room was designed without bookcases, and my husband lamented 
the fact that there was no bookcase in the room. He said there 
should never be a room, other than maybe a kitchen, that doesn't 
have books in it. I felt it was a terrible thing to do to the 
Maybeck house- -or Maybeck-White house, whatever you want to call 
itbut he wanted it so badly that as a surprise one Christmas I 
had it made for him. And I'd say he was right, I think it warms 
the room a great deal to have the bookcase there. 

Riess: Is there an important book collection there? 

Caldwell: No, there's not. Anything of importance has gone to The 

Bancroft Library or to the Huntington. There are some nice 
books there, but none of any great note. 

Riess: [Looking at a book about Ishi] Did you know Theodora Kroeber? 

Caldwell: I knew her quite well. I belong to an organization called Woman 
Geographers that she belonged to. The Woman Geographers still 

Riess: Tell me about it. 

Caldwell: It started originally- -it had Amelia Earhart in it at one time, 
for example. (Of course, I never knew her.) Then there weren't 
enough women geographers , so they extended the membership to 
people of rather unusual disciplines. In other words, Asian art 
was all right, but if I had been in Renaissance art I wouldn't 
have been asked, you know. And so I belonged to this 
extraordinary group. They were mostly women in the sciences, in 
the physical sciences. 

Riess: Exploring new frontiers. 

Caldwell: That's right, you have the right language. 

Riess: Was it located out here? 

Caldwell: No, it was in Washington, D.C. But we have a very lively chapter 
here, and one or two women of considerable distinction in the 
physical sciences. 

Riess: Where did you meet? 

Caldwell: We used to meet in private houses. They often met here. But it 
became so large that we couldn't handle the number, especially 
as guests were often invited. So now one of our members is in a 
retirement place, Piedmont Gardens, and she has permission for 
us to meet in the social hall of that institution, and that's 


where we meet. Every time we meet, some specialist gives a 
talk. So it's not Just social, it's focused on something quite 
serious each time. 

Riess: And they continue to bring in new members. 

Caldwell: Oh yes, and mostly very young women, very able young people. 

It's a nice mixture of generations, because of course there are 
a lot of old people too. But we have new members, and we have 
scholarships too. 

Riess: And Theodora? 

Caldwell: I knew her quite apart from that organization, I knew her just 
socially. I don't remember where I first met her. And I knew 
her husband somewhat too, just because I was interested in the 
art. And in the University community you meet people on a dual 
basis, I think, of social and professional. 

Riess: And why do you have this book on your coffee table about the 
goddess by Joseph Campbell. 

Caldwell: I am very much interested in Joseph Campbell- -actually this book 
doesn't belong to me- -but I am very interested in what he has 
done on Indian art . 

I have some friends, a group of women in the Asian art 
group [Society for Asian Art] in San Francisco who came over. 
They wanted to have a little study of folk art, and they just 
happened to have brought that book along. They were going to 
come over on May Day, and we were going to have a little study 
of Japanese folk art. 

Riess: And you will lead the study? 

Caldwell: I will be leading it, along with the curator of Japanese art in 
San Francisco, a woman named Yoshiko Kakudo . I think that will 
be fun, an interesting thing to do. I think for the most part 
the attraction of folk art is its great simplicity; in a complex 
world it's very restful to look at. We're going to compare what 
pieces we have in our own collections. I have a few ceramic 
pieces it's mostly in ceramics anywaywhich I bought. That I 
have done, I've bought a few ceramics. 

Riess: Tell me about that little chair. 

Caldwell: I call it a conversation piece. It is unusual because of the 
ceramic rather than carved wood inset. It's Just an oddity, 
really. We never use it, it's utterly hopeless to sit in, it's 


not designed for the human spine. It's Chinese, but it's 
Chinese with a lot of Western influence in it too, and it was 
not made for--. I'm sure no Chinese --they 're so 
practical- -would ever have made such an uncomfortable chair to 
sit in. 

Riess: What about that bookcase? 

Caldwell: That's something that Mother and Pops found in a second-hand 
store down in San Jose. It was painted, but Pops saw that it 
was a nice thing, and he had it all taken off. There are some 
nice things in there, several books that are autographed by 
Robinson Jeffers. A few nicely -autographed things. 

Riess : Is that an eagle on top? 

Caldwell: Yes, that is one of those Chinese carvings, like others I have 
in the front hall, that the Chinese use in their architectural 
decoration. If Jim had lived, we were going to build a little 
house on our seaside property in Mendocino County, and we 
thought a predatory bird like that would be very appropriate up 
there on the coast. 

The clock came from Jim's family. 
Riess: I don't know anything about Jim's family. 

Caldwell: Jim's family were from the South. They came to Virginia. There 
was a great Caldwell gathering there several years ago, and that 
was how I knew what strong ties they had with the South. But 
Jim was not brought up in the South, he simply knew that he had 
relatives there, all of whom he welcomed happily. He was very 
fond of his family, very strongly fond of his family, but they 
had not lived in the South; in his generation, they were in 

Oh, take that down [to Riess, who is walking toward 
bookcase]. That's a very rare piece. My son wants to have it. 
That's called the "great horned spoon." It comes from the 
Northwest coast, it's Indian. See that beautiful carving on it? 
This is made out of one horn, isn't that astonishing? They have 
a great collection of these up in Portland. 

Riess: Horn of what? 

Caldwell: Well, I don't know. Pops always called it the "great horned 
spoon." I took everything he said, you know, verbatim. 

Riess: It looks like wood to me. 


Caldwell: It does, doesn't it? But I am sure it really was a horn. 

That's one thing that Pops would not have been wrong about. 

The little sculptures [in the bookcase] there are 
supposedly 8th century Chinese tomb figures. But the trouble 
is, they can copy things so easily, one can't be sure. Some 
people think that they are authentic, and some don't. One 
dealer offered me quite a lot of money for them who believed 
them to be authentic. But I think they are perfectly charming. 

Riess: It sounds like you have had a number of dealers looking at 
things . 

Caldwell: Oh, one dealer tells another. Yes. And after Mother died I 
sold some things and gave things to museums because I didn't 
want the burden of having a whole lot of valuable things around. 

Riess: On this high table is a Bufano head of a girl, with blue glaze. 

Caldwell: Well, my step-father gave him the money to go to China to learn 
to do that particular kind of blue glaze. This is one of the 
figures that he did after that. I don't know who it is, I have 
no idea. I have one more Bufano, a ceramic sculpture downstairs 
of a Christ figure. 

Riess: Downstairs? 

Caldwell: There is an awful storage room downstairs- -it's not a piece that 
I am interested in, at all, not at all. 

Riess: Now what about out here in the foyer? 

Caldwell: Oh yes, the little Indian pieces. I bought them when I was 

there in 1958. Little stone pieces. (One of them is wood- -I 
just got that at Cost Plus.) The little stone pieces I got in 
India, and they are quite early. The female figure is probably 
2nd century, and the other one may be 5th century. They are 
going to go to Mills College. The woman who teaches Indian art 
there, she'll love having them. 

Riess: The Bodhissatva? That was your parents'? 

Caldwell: Yes, Mother was going to burn that up because it had bugs in it, 
but I saved it and had a great expert restore it. I phoned a 
friend in Washington, at the Freer Gallery, and he told me 
about--. You can see that it had fabric on it, and it had gold 
at one time. It is probably maybe 17th century. 


What will become of this? 


Caldwell: This goes to the Zen Center in Berkeley. I hope they will put 
it in the zendo. It's not quite good enough for the Museum. 
That is to say, it's good enough, but they have other similar 
things. They don't need another Bodhissatva of this kind. 

Riess: What has been your association with the Zen Center? 

Caldwell: When I was in Japan in 1958 I got interested in Zen art, the 
gardens, you know, and many of the paintings. So I studied 
their doctrines in order to understand in greater depth the 
relationship to the painting. I was not converted, but I got 
very much interested. 

Riess: And meditation is part of your life? 

Caldwell: It was for a while. And it would probably do me good if it were 
to become a part of it again. 

Riess: These bookcases [in foyer] were here? 

Caldwell: These were here. This room was added, not by us, but this is 
the way the house was when we bought it. Somebody who loved 
flowers did it- -you' 11 notice there is a drain here for water. 
And I understand there was a fountain over in the wall; behind 
that bench there's a place in the wall you can see there was 
some kind of opening. 

These [bronze] reliefs of Mother and Pops you might be 
interested in. This one [of Mother] was done by Stackpole. And 
this one of Pops [1896] was by a famous artist. Olin Warner was 
his name. 


Caldwell: [At bookcase] This is inscribed "For James Caldwell, in memory 
of a delightful afternoon last year," Robinson Jeffers, Tor 
House [1927]. 

Riess: What will you do with these Jeffers books? 

Caldwell: I don't know. What shall I do with the inscribed books? 

Riess: "Dear Sara, I'll be happy and deeply moved to visit The Cats 
again and to see you and the Mathiases , " Robinson Jeffers . 

Caldwell: Here are Jim's own notes on T.S. Eliot. He was crazy about T.S. 


Riess: From Genevieve Taggard: "To Kay Field, who helped with the 

title, this book, written for her generation more than for any 
other person, 'For Eager Lovers.'" 1922. 

How did you help with the title? 
Caldwell: I don't remember. 

Pops loved these nicely-bound books. He would have them 
bound by a woman named Caro Veir Ealy, who was a daughter of 
Julian Aulin Weir, the painter. He was so extravagant. 

Riess: "Sara, dear, you first made me appreciate Whit tier as the true 

poet of New England, not an imitation of old England, but in his 
benign Quakerish way original, as was that other Quaker, Walt 
Whitman." That's 1926. 

Here is Sara: "Erskine, dearest, in exactly as true a sense 
as I am mother of this little book you are father of it, and to 
you the book, as well as my life and love, is wholly dedicated," 
Sara Bard Field, Christmas 1925. 

Caldwell: This is my mother's "Vintage Festival." That's been terribly 

downgraded from a literary point of view as too sentimental. It 
makes me feel badly because 1 like it so much. It is about St. 

Riess: Here is one: "To our darling daughter Katherine Field to 

celebrate the summer vacation and her coming to us. Binding 
from me, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, her Pops, book from her 
adorable, and adored mother, Sara Bard Field- -see next page." 

Caldwell: He was a great dedicator. I was always astounded at how anybody 
could think of some unusual thing to say. 

Riess: Here is one: An Oscar Wilde, "The Happy Prince." Dedicated "To 
Charles Erskine Scott Wood, husband, comrade, critic, who has 
opened 'the new heaven and the new earth,' this precious relic 
of my childhood bound by his dear friend's daughter, and finally 
with his consent to be given to Kay, our daughter," Sara Bard 
Field, Christmas 1923. 

Caldwell: You can see why I have these in a special case. 

Riess: [Reading into tape recorder] Here is a book dedicated to "My 
dear boy, Albert Field Ehrgott," Charles Erskine Scott Wood, 
June 20, 1917. And then, further, "My darling daughter Kay, no 
copy of my book I could give you would be so valuable as this 
one I gave to our beautiful winged Albert," Pops, July 20, 1920. 


It Is "A Mask of Love" by Charles Erskine Scott Wood published 
by Walter M. Hill, Chicago 1904. 

And another, "Sonnets to Sappho." "Dedicated to the onlie 
begetter of these insuing sonnets, SBF, wife, lover, companion,' 

Transcribed and final typed by: Shannon Page 


APPENDICES --Katherine Field Caldwell 

A. "Remembering the 1923 Fire," from Hillside Neighborhood 

Newsletter. 1992. 242 

B. "An American Patron, Albert Bender of San Francisco," by 

Katherine Field Caldwell, American Federation of Arts Magazine 

of Art. August 1938. 243 

C. "Guidebook to Sexy Sculpturing," by Ralph Craib, San Francisco 

Chronicle. June 26, 1964. 249 

D. "From Winckelmann to Warburg, Art History at Mills," by Mary 

Manning Wale, Mills Magazine. May- June 1972. 250 

E. "Farewell to Katherine Caldwell," by Nancy Thompson Price, Mills 

Quarterly. May 1971. 255 

F. "Afterword" by Katherine Field Caldwell, Sara Bard Field. Poet and 

Suffragist. The Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft 

Library, UC Berkeley, 1979. 256 


Appendix A 

REMEMBERING THE 1923 FIRE by Katherine Caldwell 

(in Options for Hillside, neighborhood newsletter, number two, September 1992) 

The 1923 Berkeley fire swept down upon North Berkeley 
with the same sudden fury of the recent devastating 
Oakland-Berkeley blaze. It had been burning for two 
days in the Contra Costa hills, then barren of houses, 
ignored by the Berkeley fire department, which claimed 
that a fire in another county was not their responsibility. 
But inevitably it reached North Berkeley. Igniting a 
frame house on upper Buena Vista, above which were the 
dry, grassy slopes of the Berkeley hills, the fire spread 
rapidly to what is now the Hillside school area. The 
relentless north wind made kindling of the dry wooden 
shingles. Sparks flew from one house roof to another in 
an endless chain, and, since the water supply had given 
out early on, hosing down the roofs was impossible. The 
flames, however, were bidden by thick clouds of black 
smoke that obscured the closeness of the danger and the 
urgency of quick evacuation. 

Everyone sensed the eventual destruction of his home but 
felt a state of paralysis when it came to making wise 
choices for salvaging his belongings. My father, 
appropriate to his duty as clergyman, gave help to 
distraught mothers who were frantically trying to round 
up their children and persuaded an elderly handicapped 
neighbor to be removed from her house (she steadfastly 
affirmed that God would protect her from the flames). 
For my own part, suddenly aware of the imminent danger, 
I grabbed my small wirehaired terrier and a beautifully 
bound set of Shakespeare and dragged a Chinese rug out 
of our threatened bouse. By this time scores of sightseers 
were driving along LeRoy Avenue, few, alas, offering 
help. However, a Catholic priest obligingly took the 
Shakespeare and the rug for safe-keeping. If only others 
had been as compassionate! 

By this time our house had caught fire, and my father 
shouted to me to run to the car before it burned in the 
street. Hardly seated in the car, we saw our bouse, a three 

story Berkeley redwood, consumed by flames like a box 
thrown into a bonfire. As we moved down the hill we 
saw burning cars as well as an occasional piano dragged 
into the open in a desperate attempt to save it from 

There were many offers of hospitality in Berkeley, but I 
chose to go to San Francisco, where my mother lived on 
Russian Hill. I was sixteen and possessed a driver's 
license routine for sixteen year olds today, but a rarity 
in 1923. I had parked my mother's car in a downtown 
garage and, needing gas, beaded for a station. To my 
dismay, I discovered that in the excitement of escape I 
had left my purse in the 1553 LeRoy house! I explained 
to the station owner that my house, including purse, had 
just burned and asked if be would trust me for five gallons 
of gas. "Of course, lady," be said with reassuring 
emphasis, "I'll fill your tank!" When I reached the auto 
ferry I found the same generous response to my empty 
pockets. "Come right on board," the deckhand called out. 
And it was not until the boat had left shore and I looked 
back at the great stretch of houseless, blackened land still 
sending pillars of smoke into the sky that I realized the 
scope of the damage. 

Before the 1923 fire the Hillside School area, as today, 
was a friendly place. The unifying focus of the 
neighborhood was a firehouse located at the southeast end 
of the present school building. The firemen were our 
dependable friends. They welcomed and amused children 
and would willingly bring a ladder to a second story 
window, crawl through the window, and admit a keyless 
owner into his house. 

The desire for a unifying center prevails today, expressed 
in the efforts of Options for Hillside to retain the Hillside 
playground as a community asset. Even the effort to 
achieve this end strengthens neighborhood unification. 

tear off- 

Options for Hillside, P.O. Box 9336, Berkeley, CA 94709. Telephone 486-0414. 

I would like to help: 

I enclose a donation to support your efforts: $ 





Appendix B 


F. A. WHITING. JR.. Editor . . . JANE WATSON. AMUIU Editor 
L. B. HOUFF. JR.. Buainea* Manager . HARRY ROBERTS. JR., Art Director 



AUGUST, 1938 

Maurice Slcrnc: "Scaled Girl," Bali, 1914. Drawing ............ Grr 

In the Brndrr Collection, San Franciscv .Museum of An 

KiUard VlrMon: Pliolograpli of Alborl Bonder 


An Ami'riran I'alron. Wv Halhrrinf Firlil O/MiiW/ ............. -HI 

AlloTl Hfinlrr <>j Stin h'rniirisro 

Varhrl l.imUin : l'<-n anil Ink SyiiUilim. Bv TMma tt ilm 7'Winpr . . . I.VI 

\lr* for v Sluilv <>f \rrliilcclnrc. Wv Hmr\ .S. Cliun^ill ......... 157 

lll<M-li anil Nonlfcl.ll: A Slml> in Conlrasl*. Hy ff nllurr S. ttaUiniyr . . 4.S 

Thralrr and (;<-opra|ili>. Hy Hiillic Hnnnisin ................ -Mil 

Tin- hvlirul Thmlre I'nijrrt' * I'rmmt unit t'ulurr 

Cirrus anil Kinp*iili- in (lie I Jlliopraphft of KO|MT| Kigps. Hy Oiilili- Hnrr 40* Divign: \ Nrn I'rofrwion. Hy Euprur Sdnii-n .......... 472 

V-li\iH ..................................... W} 

,\ru-x nf h'tvlinilinn Cha/Hcrx mill the Srnrnl .4rt.< 

A \iiliiniiil Lift 





Pie included in tlir United Slale* and poucioni. Cin.di.n poti|t 50 cent* *tr. and 10 rorrign rounirin, 11.00 riin. Thr ft ginr 
i. m.iled to .11 ch.pi CT ..nd member.. . p.rt of ch .nnu.lfe* bcin| ;creditd ...ib*rri p iion. Entered.. eeond^l.Mni.iler October 4. 1921. 
I iKf Poti O(Rc it W**hin(ion, D. C. nd it the Pott Offic* *t Billimore, Md., under th MI of March 3, 1879. Title Trade Mark Reg - 
lend in the L 1 S Patent Office. Copyright 19S8 by The American Federation of Aru. All righu rawed. All manuaeriptt abould be aeot to 
the Editor Maiaiine of An. Barr Building, Waabinglon, D. C. Unaolicited manunripn ahould be aeconpanied by alamped. aelf-addreaaed 
eaveiopo.'to in.ure return in caae m.ieri.l n not uaed. The Editor* cannot aieume reaponaibility for the return of any unaoliciled, material. 




IT IS an axiom in San Francisco that all art activities lead 
lo Albert Bender's door. For a quarter of a century his emi 
nence ai a benefactor hat been a familiar at the physical at- 
Heclt of the city: ita ferry tower, the jerking cable cart climb 
ing perpendicular hills, the ocean grown more intimate in the 
narrow channel of the Golden Gate. Unlike the landmarks of 
the city, Mr. Bender bat never been taken for granted. He has 
received official recognition in the form of honorary degrees 
from every important educational inttitution in the commu 
nity and unofficial acclaim from the hundreds whom he has 
bene6ted and the many more who consider him a focus of the 
culture of his city. Mr. Bender's generosity has won him de 
voted love and admiration it has even given him a somewhat 
legendary reputation. But its deeper social imj>ort. the mass 
effect of his giving, has been obscured b\ concentration on in 
dividual instances of it. There is a growing awareness that the 
bestowing of gifts, however commendable in itself, is the small 
est part of his significance. From his stead \ <>u I (touring of 
gifts definite principles become discernible which pro>c him 
to be a unique national force in the world of art. 

Mr. Bender believes that the best way to further art is to 
support living artists, especially those near at band. He does 
not imply that the art produced today is the only and the 
final beauty. On the contrary he considers historical collec 
tions of great importance. But he fears that too great concern 
over preserving the past might cause the death of contempo 
rary art. He recognizes that the artist has something valuable 
to contribute to contemporary life and is entitled to earn a 
living by means of his art. This may seem at first glance an 
accepted commonplace. But if it is, society bas been slow to 
act upon it. On the whole, artists have been treated as though 
thcv were erratic children, or visionary and incompetent ones, 
leaning on their "stronger" brothers in trade. Mr. Bender's 
distinction lies in acting upon his belief in the importance of 
contemj>orar\ artists and their right to live by their art. He 
does not await a Golden Age; he helps to bring it about. 

Long before the government acknowledged the legitimate 
claim of the artist to eat by his brush or pen, San Francisco 
artists knew that tlirx could rclv ii|mn Mr. Bender to sup|K>rt 
them in this claim. The needs that his tireless understanding 
and bounty have supplied are varied: the raw materials them- 

Thr Anne Brenur Memorial Librarf founded b\ Albert Bender in 1935 at ihr California School of Fine Arts. The relief over the man - 
lei u fry Jacques Schnier; the three lunettes shotting motl clearly contain f rescues b\ I icior Arnauliiff. Bath artists uwk in California 


dye* paint, canvas, day, place to work; support through 
illness, opportunity to itudy glares in Korea, for example, or 
to tee the galleries of Europe and America. Whererer possible 
thii help hat been proffered by the purchase of product*, rare 
ly by the humiliation of outright gift. And this reaolve to pre- 
Mrre the artist's integrity it looked upon by artists tbem- 
aelve* at an important part of Mr. Bender't dittinctive style 
of patronage. 

The proportion of hit giftt to hit income it no lett remark 
able than Mr. Bender't active appreciation of living artitu. 
It it the attonithing fact that ninety per cent of Mr. Bender't 
income goet back to the community'! charitable, educational 
and creative ventures. Hit own personal wants are very simple; 
once they are supplied he gives everything he has away. For a 
man who has achieved outstanding success in business, who 
hat collected thousands of objects from ancient Japanese pot 
tery to contemporary Mexican painting, Mr. Bender it 
singularly unattached to material things. Once an object 
pastes into hit hands hr is not content until it becomet the 
possession of an institution where it may be enjoyed in com 
mon. An object may truly be said nol to !>< his until it has 
runic into ihr keeping of another. 

The Far V est had special need of a man to whom gold was 
not a final good. It if. natural that California should chortxh it* 

frontier tradition, especially its romantic gold-rush past. This 
past is not very remote and the frontier tradition coincides 
with our American love for physical accomplithmentt on a 
Urge scale. There it a lingering feeling that we mutt "push on" 
to bigger buildings, highways, bridges. In the face of this con 
centration on physical achievement the arts had particular 
need of encouragement. Albert Bender realized that there 
were frontiers of the spirit to be cultivated as well as those of 
the land. In a tribute to his friend Senator Phelan, Mr. Ben 
der ascribed to him the "vision of a future in which apprecia 
tion of the Fine Arts is to keep pace with material prosperity." 
There could be no clearer statement of his own self-imposed 

Certain strong influences shaped this theory of patronage. 
For one, a clerical father, learned in the Irish poets at well at 
in theology. But even more important wat the companionship 
over a long period of years with his talented coutiu. Anne 
Bremcr. to whom, a* Mr. Keniler wrote. " .... a world 
without art wan a liarren place from which the soul of man had 
departed." Association with a (taintcr who nol only knew but 
saw was a rare o|i|K>rliinity for education in the arl*. Hi- in- 
trrrol in Mill- College was a trilnilc to In T a- a |M*r*oii and to 
the education of women in general. In lliii- tililr*l college for 
women in llir r ar \\ ml. he find* and fiwtrr* a liroad r<mcc|(- 

Karl Hofrr'i "TTir Card Plavtrt" in the Bender Collection of the Son Fmnrism Miitrtim of Art. Thin i bm one of monv gifu 


"Requiem,*" lilnHftninh IIY June Clement? Orusru. in the Header Ctiiletiiitn nl the Stin fniariaru Museum of Art 

lion ofrulturr which accepts the arts as an essential par! of a 
balanced education. Hut Mr. Bender's lcni|>craincnl does not 
es|H>uhe causes or crusades. Tlir aura he creates anmnil liiin is 
harmonious genial. He acls habitually to meet a nerd in a 
given situation and il is from tlic total sum of them- acts thai 
a principle emerges. 

Tin' Bender room in llir Mills (lollege library concentrates 
chiefly ii|M>n modern lilrraliirr anil flni' printing. Kor conlinu- 
il\ ami contrast some older ilrms arc included. Then- in a 
manuscript of Kli/.ahcth Browning, a Ifllrr in Dickens' hand, 
an rarl\ edition of Hum-. In fine priming r\er\ ini|M>rlanl 
press from Kclm-coit In (>ral>lnirn is represented anil in (Cal 
ifornia tlirrr arr ]naMiiMTi|M - from Hrrl llarlr til Uoltin-ou 
JrfTrrs. Mr. HrmliT's riiilin-ia-in fur lilcralurc anil line print 
ing fills the thrhrs of llir Sianlnnl anil I Mi\cr-ilx of Califor 
nia libraries as well. 

Hit name run- llirougli lltr paniplili'ls railed "Gifts to llir 
RegrntR of tin I ni\ \ of (California" lil>r llir dominanl 
thread in a patterned clntli. It is ras\ lo infrr liis rrad\ cqui- 
currnre to rarli need suggested to him. Me I \teni tlie \rars 1920 
and 1938 there arc reeorded itrms like llirw: a donation "lo 
defray expenses of exhibiting a group of Iwrnl \ -fivr represen 
tative landH-a|>e painters of California: also to the art depart 
ment to purchase three portfolios of reproductions of draw 
ings by Leonardo da Vinci, Holbein and VI atleau;" a sum of 
money "to a professor of art to purchase art materials during 
visit to Japan, for the University of California art museum, 
for the establishment of a |>oetr> prize, for the purchase of one 

hundred and fifty original drawings li\ (',. K. Chrslerlon, for 
one of Ililaire llrllor's books, for the purchase of Kussian 
ikons, for the purchase of material lo lie used in setting a 
mural on the wall of the art gallery, eighteen pieces of Guate 
malan textile* representing various weaves.*' 

Although Mr. (tender's interest cannot lie narrowed into 
our channel the trend of his giving identifies him cs|K*ciall\ 
with artist-. Among his most notable gifts are the memorial 
funds established at the California School of r me Arts; one 
for talented and iiii|xfiinii>iis sludenls. another for the library . 
The inspiration of Anne Itrcnier was again determinate. She 
had studied al the School Itrforc going to I'aris. graduating 
with the highest honors. In founding the Anne lircmcr Me 
morial I nnil for desiT\ ing students, Mr. (tender won main 
new friends for art in San Kranciiw-o by persuading others lo 
dd lo the substantial sum that he himself set aside. On re- 
|K-aled occasions he has formed "clusters" of art patrons. No 
one can rrfusr him liecause of his evident disinlcreflcdncss 
and unreserved giving. A punning friend remarked after con 
tributing lo one of his projects "Allirrl Mender is the dearest 
friend I have." 

With a group of friends Mr. Mender answered the pressing 
need of the School by founding the Anne Kremer Library. 
Since the library ie for the use of practicing students books arr 
chosen primarily from the standpoint of technique and ex 
cellence of reproduction. In order that the library might have 
some fresher link with contemporary art than textbook illus 
tration. Mr. Bender commissioned Victor ArnautofT. Kalph 


W iUuuniffto,a naUveSan tran- 
CMOon, painted "What Ckry~ 
anthenuuta," note in the Bender 
Collection at the San Frandtco 
Museum of Art. Mr. Bender* i 
chief interttt it in tht artitu of 
hit own orv and hit oun region 

"Two W'unirn anil ii ChiliF' ( If 26). mniuxlir /mini in ft In- Difftit Kir- 
era. Bendrr GV/or*in. Ctilifirniii 1'nlitcr iif tin- Is-piim / Honor 

Slark|K>lr, Ka\ |{<i\nlon. William llrsiliil. Gordon I jngHon 
ml KrrH OlmHraH all San Franri*co artido to paint frri-- 
nrfi in tin- liinritr- In-low tin- ceiling. Over llir firrjilarr a 
plaque l>\ Jarqurs Schnirr l>rars the inMTiption of ihr dale of 
I In formal ilriln anon of tlir lil>rar\. 

Miliuupli Mr. KnulrrV pifi* i<> the San Kranriiwo Art Ao- 
MM-ialion wrrc alrrail\ grm-ron- scliolirxhips, librarx and 
IxH.ks Mr. lii-ruli-r alto gavr a itorir* of drawings of hand* liv 
Dirgo Kivrra. lli intrrral in Rivera goo* bark lo 1929 whrn a 
group of San Franrioco artiftt* rrlurncd from Mexico with thr 
new of a flourishing art rrnaiuancc. Mr. HrnHrr wa* favor 
ably di|n*rd from thr firrt toward* a man whow> influlnrr on 
thr nirilimli. and tubjrrt maltrr of conlrm|>orarv arliitii was 
o profound. Months brforr Kivrra ' fame spread likr a frvrr 
acrow thr country Mr. Brndcr bought his oils anddrawingR. 
Hewasonrof thr first In mm inAmrrica toapprrciatr Rivrra 
and gi\r him rnthusiMtir tupport during his stay in San 

Whrn thr first onr-man show of Rivera's work was hrld at 
the California Palarr of thr Lrgion of Honor in San Francisco 
in 1930. Mr. Brndrr supplird a numbrr of thr itrm* from his 


own collection. Some of tbee remained * permanent gift* to 
the Muteum. 

Besides contemporary paintings, European textile*, print* 
and sculpture*, Mr. Bender hat given the California Palace of 
the Legion of Honor and the De Young Memorial Mueum a 
number of Oriental object*. Outstanding among thece is a 
group of Han mortuary figure* and a distinguished group of 
prehistoric Japanese pottery including Minu, Yamato and 
Yayoi type*. Hi* interest in Oriental culture derive* from the 
early day* of hi* career in San Francisco when he won not only 
the bu*ine*c but the friendship of the Chinese population. 

Mr. Bender combine* fidelity to familiar venture* with zest 
for new one*. Hi* enthusiasm, once engaged, may be counted 
upon to be permanent. Yet he it none the le*s eager to en 
courage new growth. ^ lien the San Francisco Museum of Art 
opened in 1935 Albert Bender welcomed a gallery devoted ex- 
pretsh to exhibiting and explaining rontcni]torar\ art. Noth 
ing supplemented more completely hi- long patronage of 
arn-ir tlmi < gallon for the interchange of ideas between 
artisl anil public. For whatever his philosophical persuasion, 
the artist .!.- not work to decorate his own sluilio walls. 

During llii' three v ears of I he existence of llie San Francisco 
Mii-eiim nl \rl. Mr. Hcinler has pi\en scores of olijcvt> to (he 

Museum's permanent collection, provided the mean* for pur 
chase fund*, and kept himself available for the frequent emer 
gencies that arise in the life of a new institution. Works by 
western artists, especially of those in and near San Francisco, 
form the nucleus of the Bender Collection. To the California 
group, however, Mr. Bender has added many others. Maurice 
Sterne (an adopted San Franciscan) it represented by a num 
ber of drawing* from 1910 to the present day, and by two can 
vases: Sleeping Girl and Praying Girl in the Ganga. The 
Mexican group includes The Flouer Vendor, painted by Rivera 
at the request of Albert Bender, Martinez, Montenegro, Char- 
lot and Merida. There are excellent examples of the work of 
Alexander Brook, Edward Bruce, Boris Deutsch and of Karl 
Hofer. Betide containing every well known American name, 
the print collection includes Cezanne, Gauguin, Pissarro, Ren 
oir, Matisse, Picasso and Brouet. 

Although Mr. Bender is manifestly concerned with the ac 
cumulation of things of worth, hr has never looked upon thr 
acquiring of works of art as his essential purjiosc. There is a 
deeper impulse motivating all he so tirclcsslv does his de 
votion to the living arlisl. his almost complete dedication of 
his income to Inning and giving. lit his own word. Mr. Men 
der collects not arl. hul human beings. 

1'n-hislitric Juimnme I'utltry. ")vW" /V/M>. Ill the liciidrr Oilhviioti uf thr M. II. rfc )<Hiiift M<morinl Miisnini, San r'nincixni 


San Francisco Chronicle. 6/26/64 

Boise, a shaggily-bearded | 
Individualist, works with '50 ; 
aod '51 Ford fenders and 
bumpers, among other things, 
to create busts and figures. 
What some of the figures are 
doing upset the police and 
prompted the arrests. 

His inspiration, the Kama 
Sutra, and temples depicting 
its writings, emerged in Mrs. 
CaldweU's testimony as sort 
of massive compendiums of 
the seemingly endless ways 
in which two people can share 
intimacies, a how -to -do -it 
physicaliology text. 

Preceding Mrs. Caldwell to 
the stand was Professor Wal 
ter Horn, University of Cali 
fornia art historian, who was 
engaged by Deputy District 
Attorney Luther Goodwin in 
lengthy interrogation intend 
ed to answer one of man's 
age-old questions: What is 

Professor and prosecutor 
reached no conclusions. 


But Dr. Horn did pronounce ; 
Boise's male and female 
figures to be art and very; 
good art indeed. "Gentle and 
warm and done in great sym- 
pathy and tenderness," he 

Artist Boise's elation at the 
testimony was short lived. 
Two arms grabbed his at the 
end of the court day and he 
was hustled up to the city j 
prison for failing to take care 
of a $28 ticket for having a 
defective windshield. 

The art trial continues to 

An art lecturer 

To Sexy 

By Ralph Craib 

That summer session 
course on the history and 
appreciation of art San 
Francisco's obscene statue 
trial p roceeded to the 
consideration of some 
crumbling ancient Indian 
temples and age-old Indian 
philosophies yesterday. 

And the jurors learned that 
the Kama Sutra, the inspira 
tion of the controversial stat 
uary, is "to the Indians, say, 
what a medical book on ideal 
family life would be in our 
own culture." 

The definition came from 
Katherine Caldwell, Mills Col 
lege lecturer on Oriental art. 

Mrs. Caldwell. a sprightly 
Bttle sparrow of a woman, 
was called as a defense wit 
ness for Michael Muldoon 
Elder, 24, and Michael Staf 
ford, 24, charged with ob 
scenity because they offered 
for sale some works of sculp 
tor Ron Boise. 

Appendix C 
Sculpture Trial 

Jim was on the ACLU Board, and 
when the case came up he 
suggested that I, as an art 
historian, should be one of 
the witnesses for the defense. 
The situation was that the 
City of San Francisco police 
department arrested the 
gallery owner, showing the 
sculptures [inspired by the 
Kama Sutra] , on charges of 
obscenity. On my day in court 
I brought photographs for the 
public and jurors to see, of 
art of a sexual nature . And 
Professor Valter Horn, another 
of the witnesses, explained 
how important the depiction of 
love in art is. I remember 
five women on the Jury wore 
dark glasses, in this rather 
dim courtroom, to avoid being 
seen to look directly at the 
sculpture. Really, it was all 
quite a sensation at the time, 
and the Chronicle had it on 
the front page. In fact, they 
said if you wanted a free 
course in art history you 
should attend the trial! The 
outcome was a complete victory 
for the artist, and the 
gallery owner. But I was very 
nervous about testifying, and 
I remember Valter Horn treated 
me to a filet mignon 
beforehand, I suppose to 
strengthen me or something. 
The third witness, I have 
forgotten his name , but I know 
that Thomas Carr Howe refused 
to be a witness because he 
said he felt it would offend 
his trustees! I also remember 
that beforehand, after I read 
the Kama Sutra, because I 
didn't know that much about 
Indian art I went to consult 
with a professor at Cal who 
explained what the Kama Sutra 
meant in its day. [KFC] 


Appendix D 


by Mary Manning Wale 

Thirty-five yean ago, wishing to pursue on 
the graduate level my interest in art history, I 
enrolled in a Summer Session program at Mills. 
Dr. Neumeyer was collaborating with William 
Suhr of the Detroit Institute of Fine Arts on a 
study of the techniques of painting, and the ma 
terial covered ranged from the methods used by 
the ancients to those employed by Titian dur 
ing his long lifetime. It was the stimulation and 
fascination of that summer's study which led me 
to work for my Master's degree at Mills. 

Newly come to the West Coast, I had visited 
the University of California and found to my 
disappointment that ihc discipline of art history 
as I had known it at Welleslcy was missing. At 
that time courses in art appreciation and 
aesthetics were the closest approach to the sub 
ject in which I had received my B.A. At Mills, 
however, an orderly sequence of courses in both 
Oriental and European art was available; gradu 
ate seminars, a course in museum training, and 
work on a Master's thesis were offered. The 
materials were what I wanted, and the approach 
was the one with which I was familiar. How did 
this situation occur at Mills, a small Western 
college for women? 

First, perhaps, because it was a bit of trans 
planted New England. On studying the early 
catalogues, one finds a long tradition of art his 
tory as pan of the curriculum, dating back to 
1 875, and listed as a requirement for graduation 
until 1916. The influence here, one ventures to 
guess, is through Ml. Holyoke, Almn Mater of 
Mrs. Mills, and supplier of a succession of teach 
ers for Mills. 

In 1 874 the first lectures in art were given at 
Mt. Holyoke. Standard courses in art history 
were developed as time went on, with the sub 
ject a required one for seniors. Mt. Holyoke 
thus seemed to be following the pattern of the 
other Eastern colleges building up solid pro 
grams in this area. Their guiding light was Ger 
many where the first chair in art history had 
been established thirty years earlier for G. F. 

A second factor was the vision of Aurelia 
Henry Reinhardt, dynamic president of Mills 

from 1916 to 1943. In the 1930's and early 40's 
she seized the opportunity of bringing to the 
College refugee scholars who shed a new lustre 
on the institution. Alfred Salmony, Alfred Neu 
meyer, Edgar Breitenbach, and Otto Maenchen, 
maintaining European standards of scholarship, 
incorporated into their courses fresh material, 
frequently the result of their own researches. 

They came, however, to a soil well prepared, 
and to a congenial atmosphere. The modern 
sophisticate is quite ready to smile condescend 
ingly over the catalogues of the Seminary and 
young College. The ladies entrusted with the 
teaching of art history also doubled as English 
instructors; one is rightfully dubious concerning 
the depths of their knowledge. But the eye 
pauses what is this? We scan a catalogue listing 
the textbooks used in art history and find that 
they are the standard works of the time, written 
by the leading authorities of the period, Kugler, 
Liibke, Winckelmann (generally thought of as 
the father of art history), Crowe and Cavaca- 
selle. Their books were the best offered then, 
and later discoveries concerning dating and 
attributions should not obscure our recognition 
of the contributions made by these men. Just 
how the courses at Mills were taught or the gen 
eral tone is not so important as the fact that this 
branch of study was formally recognized. Its 


Don W. Jones, page 3, right; page 5. upper left; 
back cover. Roi Partridge, page 4, left. 
Imogen Cunningham, page 4, right. Kenneth 
Young, page 5, upper right and bottom; page 6. 
ASUCLA Photographic Department, page 9, bottom; 
page 10, bottom. Harasty Photography, page 9, 

MILLS MAGAZINE is published by Milb College bi-month 
ly during the academic year, in September, November, 
January, March, May. Second class postage paid at Oakland, 
California. Interested persons may be placed on the mailing 
lift by addressing their requests to the Office of Publica 
tions, Mills College, Oakland, California 946 IS. 

Editor, Barbara M. Bundschu 



He also taught a two-unit course in the "General 
History of Art," which was very general indeed. 
More depth, presumably, was to be found in 
two upper division courses entitled "Schools of 
Painting" and "American Painting." 

The year 1 920 saw still deeper emphasis given 
to the artist's rather than to the historian's point 
of view when the distinguished etcher Roi 
Partridge was appointed. He was to serve Mills 
long and faithfully. Mr. Partridge shared with 
Mr. Neuhaus and Mrs. Grace Storey Putnam 
responsibility for the advanced courses men 
tioned above. This was in addition to his pri 
mary commitment, teaching studio courses. 

Another development important for the stat 
ure of the College was the fact that Mills was 
now accredited as a teacher training institution 
and it was possible to obtain the State Certificate 
in Drawing and Art for Secondary Schools. Cer 
tain theoretical and practical courses were re 
quired by the State Board of Education; the 
curriculum of the an department was influenced 

The 1923-24 catalogue lists the name of Miss 
Florence Minard, long known for her courses 
on the history of costume and on domestic archi 
tecture and furnishings. These were tied in with 
the bourgeoning Department of Home Eco 
nomics. In 1928 Eugen Neuhaus was no longer 
at Mills; more formal courses in art history, 
including one on Oriental art were offered by 
Dr. Anna Cox Brinton and Mrs. Rose Berry. 

In 1931 Warren Cheney of the University of 
California began leaching a course in modern 
art, described as a unified approach to the major 
arts. Painting, literature, and theater were dis 
cussed in the fall semester; sculpture, dance, 
architecture, and music in the spring. The 
course was offered through 1 936. 

Significant change took place in 1934 with 

Mr. Salmony 

the appointment of Alfred Salmony (Ph.D., 
Vienna) as visiting lecturer in Oriental art. He 
taught courses on prehistoric an in China, on 
the Eastern animal style, and on the Scythians, 
his areas of special interest and research, in addi 
tion to the general course on Oriental art al 
ready in the curriculum. 

Although Salmony's stay at Mills was rela 
tively brief his imprint as a scholar lingered. 
Three Master's theses on Oriental art had been 
produced while he was at Mills. One was by 
Elizabeth Huff, who became a distinguished 
Orientalist and later director of the East Asiatic 
Library in Berkeley, one by Helen Chapin, 
already an Oriental scholar in her own right, 
and one by Alice Putnam Breuer (now Mrs. 
Erskine) who had undertaken study abroad in 
connection with her thesis. Following Dr. 
Salmony's departure she was given the post of 
instructor in Oriental art and conscientiously 
followed his methods of teaching. 

Also still vivid in the collective memory were 
two exhibitions of Chinese and Japanese art 
which drew considerable attention to Mills. At 
the same time, chiefly through the Rockefeller 
Foundation, valuable and expensive sets of 
books on Oriental art were obtained. 

Dr. Salmony left in 1936, ultimately for a 
connection with New York University's Insti 
tute of Fine Arts, where he remained until his 
death in 1958. 

The appointment in 1 935 of Alfred Neu- -i 
meyer (Ph.D., Berlin) as Assistant Professor 
of Art and Director of the Art Gallery was a 
milestone in the College's history. For thirty-one 
years he was a guiding force in the art depart 
ment and brought Mills much in the way of 
reflected glory. A scholar rigorously trained in 
the European tradition, a gifted lecturer and 
writer, always with two or three pieces of re- 


Afuj Tolman 

effects on those sensitive to beauty cannot be 

From existing records there seems to be gen 
eral agreement on the role played by Jane Cor 
delia Tolman, younger sister of Mrs. Mills. Also 
a graduate of Mt. Holyoke, she is first listed as an 
English teacher, for the period 1868-77. Then 
she disappears from the catalogue and reappears 
in 1882 as a full-fledged instructor in art history, 
teaching the subject until her retirement in 
1 90S. At the same time the catalogue proudly 
announces that as an adjunct to the program in 
that field there are "hundreds of fine engravings 
and autotypes, recently selected for the Seminary 
in Europe." This is our clue to the date of Miss 
Tolman's visit to that Mecca for American art 
lovers. Apparently it was the great experience 
of her life. Also, apparently, she had the ability 
to transmit her feeling for art. Rosalind Keep 
in her history of Mills says that former students 
of M iss Tolman's referred to art history as one 
of the most valuable, vital, and stimulating sub 
jects in the curriculum. 

Jane Tolman was succeeded by Augusta 
Brooks, who taught both English and art history 
from 1904 to 191 1, and by Marian Griswold 
Boalt, a graduate of Lake Erie College, who had 
also studied at Mt. Holyoke. Miss Brooks had 
done graduate work at Wellesley, but whether 
in English or art history we do not know. Miss 
Boah's appointment was made 'hiring the 
presidency of Louella Clay Carson, who was 
trying to raise Mills from seminary to College 

After 1916, following the inauguration of 
Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, many changes took 
place. New appointees brought a higher degree 
of scholarship to the campus, with the number 
holding the Ph.D. increasing appreciably; the 
curriculum was expanded and up-dated, and the 
College gained national recognition. The repu 
tation developed during the first decade of Dr. 
Reinhardt's presidency was due in large pan 
to her personality and ability. In 1917 Mills was 
elected to membership in the Association of 
American Universities and Colleges. A charter 
for a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was granted in 

The art department perforce reflected this 
period of growth and changing emphases. In 
1918 Miss Boalt was replaced by the noted 
painter Eugen Neuhaus. He was given the title 
"Director of Graphic and Applied Art" and 
offered lecture courses on "the principles of 
artistic production and aesthetic appreciation." 

Mr. Neumeyer 


Mrs. Caldwell 

search in hand, he quickly built up a reputation 
as an outstanding teacher. After his retirement 
his lecture series for alumnae drew flocks of 
former students wishing to renew the old magic, 
and many others, happy to have the opportunity 
of hearing the master whose courses they had 
missed as undergraduates. 

Dr. Neumeyer thought of the Art Gallery as 
an adjunct to the teaching function; conse 
quently exhibits were chosen with an eye to en 
riching the course offerings. In making acqui 
sitions for the Gallery he concentrated on pur 
chasing prints. There were several reasons- 
one was Dr. Neumeyer's special interest and 
competence in this area because of his expe 
rience in the Print Room at the Berlin Museum, 
another was the fact that graphic works were 
relatively inexpensive, and a third was that this 
material provided students with the experience 
of handling original works of art. Woodcuts, 
engravings, and etchings were used to good 
advantage in advanced courses and seminars. 

A true scholar has an insatiable desire for 
books; Dr. Neumeyer's efforts to obtain for the 
Library important works resulted in a collection 
of volumes on art history unusually fine for a 
college of this si/e. His interest extended to items 
for the rare book room, where sources for art 
history and finely illustrated books were 
acquired on his recommendation. These, in 
turn, were used in special seminars held in the 
Bender Room. 

In 1937 despite the Depression and gathering 
war clouds the department's little band of grad 
uate students had a sense of excitement and of 
larger possibilities. Edgar Breiten bach (Ph.D., 
Hamburg), disciple of Aby Warburg who 
founded the famous institute which still bears 
his name, gave special courses in medieval art 
and iconography. A year-long seminar on 

Mr. Frankenstein 

Michelangelo conducted by Dr. Neumeyer made 
us feel that we were authorities on that particu 
lar titan and the following year devoted to Diirer 
gave us insight into the Northern genius and 
knowledge of the graphic art of that time and 

Pearl Harbor, alas, brought drastic reverses to 
the College. President Reinhardt, fearful of the 
effect of war on enrollment, made large cuts in 
staff. Dr. Neumeyer and Miss Minard alone 
were left to teach European art. Otto Maenchen 
(Ph.D., Leipzig), who came to Mills in 1939, 
continued to conduct courses in Oriental art. 
After Miss Minard's retirement in 1945 until 
Robert Beetem's appointment in 1961 Dr. Neu 
meyer was solely responsible for the area of 
Western art. This would have been detrimental 
to the College had he been a lesser man. As it 
was, courses covering different periods had to 
be offered in alternate years, and it was difficult 
to give graduate students work sufficiently ad 
vanced and varied. 

Beginning in 1944 Alfred Frankenstein's 
popular and valuable course on music and the 
visual arts in America started under the auspices 

Mri. Corn, Mr. Watt, Mn. Wrifkt 


of the School of Fine Arts. This, with a break 
between 1947 and 1955, has continued to the 

Mrs. Wale, Associate Librarian and Lecturer in 
History of Art, also has charge of the Albert M. 
Bender Collection of rare books and manu 
scripts. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, 
with an M.A. from Mills and the Certificate in 
Librarianship from the University of California 
at Berkeley. She has been at Mills since 1941. 
As the librarian concerned with the proper 
presentation of theses, she regrets that this mag 
azine omits footnotes and suggests the following 
references in addition to the Mills sources cited. 

Priscilla Hiu nd Roberta Fansler, Research in Fine 
Arti in the Colleges and Universities of the United States 
(New York. Carnegie Corporation, 1934), pp. 115-116. 

"Hittoriography" in the Encyclopedia of World Art 
(New York: McGraw Hill. 1959). 

"Kunitgeschichte American Style," by Colin Eisler in 
The Intellectual Migration, Europe to America, 1930-1S60, 
ed. by Donald Fleming (Cambridge, Matt.: Harvard Univer- 
ity Preu, 1969). pp. 544-629. 

present time, with some modifications. The 
section on visual arts is now a separate course 
listed under the art department. 

A happy circumstance for the College was 
the 195 1 appointment of Katherine Caldwell as 
lecturer in Oriental art after interim appoint 
ments following Dr. Maenchen's departure for 
U. C. in 1947. She was destined to bring twenty 
years of enthusiastic teaching to Mills students. 
Upon her retirement last June, Hugh Wass 
was appointed to teach the courses in this area. 

Today a new generation has taken over, 
bright, energetic young people, excellently 
trained. Since 1961 the directorship of the Gal 
lery has been successively in the hands of Robert 
Beetem, Carl Beh, and Elizabeth Elston Ross, 
a Mills alumna. Following Dr. Neumeyer's re 
tirement in 1066 Hanna Lerski and, subse 
quently, Georgia Wright took responsibility for 
his courses. Today's students are keenly inter 
ested in contemporary art and the courses on 
this subject offered first by Carl Belz and cur 
rently by Wanda Corn have been enthusiastic 
ally received. 

Graduate work in art history has been 
dropped within the past few years because of 
the limitations of the department in size of 
staff rather than quality. Over the years the 
relationship with offerings in the creative arts 
has on ihc whole been well balanced, with 
majors obliged to take courses in both history 
and technique. 

What of the students who majored in art 
history or earned Master's degrees in the sub 
ject"- A few have gone on to get the Ph.D. and 
pursue careers commensurate with their ability. 
Others have led useful lives, teaching on differ 
ent levels, as museum and gallery workers or as 
librarians. In my case I found the possibility of 
a happy marriage between art history and the 
study of rare books. The two fields are closely 
related and enhance each other. 

The students who have not followed profes 
sions contribute also. Some participate in 
docent programs in museums, and others with 
wealth at their disposal have played important 
roles as patrons of art. 

At the present moment there is tremendous 
popular interest in art. We find increasing 
numbers of art history programs in colleges, 
junior colleges, and high schools. Here at Mills 
the subject is flourishing, nearly one hundred 
years after its introduction into the curriculum. 


Farewel I 

Cold well 

Nancy Thompson Price, '61 

Quarterly custom is to honor a retiring faculty member 
by asking a faculty associate or former student to 
write a piece about him or her. Nancy Thompson 
Price, a former student of Dr. Caldwell's, now 
teaches Oriental art history at Vassar. 

When Katherine Caldwell came to the campus 
she was not the first to teach Oriental art at Mills. 
She did, however, provide the only contact with 
Asian culture for several generations of art majors 
and other assorted students inclined toward exotica. 
Her survey confronted the novice with a plethora 
of unheard-of names and places, not to mention 
times. There was no familiar Renaissance or Renoir 
to reassure the student, now called upon for the 
first time to cope with the stupa and the sutra, Wangs 
and Yangs, Kano Masanobu and Kano Mitsunobu. 
But Mrs. Caldwell's own obvious enthusiasm for, and 
sure command of her subject matter invariably carried 
her class through the first few dazed weeks. Her lec 
tures brought the myterious East to life with an 
effective selection from the stunning collection of 
slides which she had made on her various trips. 
Her personal library of Chinese and Japanese 
publications, too, was available to her students. By 
the end of the year's course, their horizons had been 
expanded far beyond their own Western heritage. 
For those whose initial curiosity developed into a 
deep interest, she provided advanced courses in Chinese 
and Japanese art. 

As a strong believer in the principle that Asian 
culture should be part of the curriculum of all college 
students, and as sole representative of Asian studies 
at Mills for many years, Mrs. Caldwell can, at her 
retirement, draw satisfaction from the presently some- 

Mills Quarterly, Vol. 53, No. A. 
Appendix E 

what more developed program in the area. Offerings 
in history and opportunities for language study now 
augment the courses in art history which she taught 
for two decades. 

Mrs. Caldwell received her BA and MA from 
Radcliffe College, where she studied under the 
renowned American pioneer in the field of Oriental 
art history, Landgon Warner. She made frequent 
research trips abroad, traveling extensively in Europe, 
India and 'Japan to visit museums and art centers 
and to examine the art treasures preserved in 
private collections. She is currently at work on a 
special research project involving Japanese painting, 
and to further this project went to Japan in the summer 
of 1968 on a Mills College research grant. 

Through her travels, lectures and teaching Mrs. 
Caldwell has done much to advance interest in 
Oriental culture in the Bay Area. One of the founders 
and a former director of the Society for Asian Art 
in San Francisco, she is presently on their advisory 
committee, composed of specialists in the field 
from Bay Area colleges and universities. She served 
on the committee for the opening of the Avery 
Brundage Wing of the M. H. De Young Museum 
in San Francisco, in June, 1966. Illustrated records 
of findings on her trips have greatly enriched the 
slide collection of the Mills College Department of Art. 

Mrs. Caldwell's retirement marks the beginning 
of a more intensive pursuit of her own special aca 
demic interests. She will leave this summer on another 
trip to Japan, where she plans to spend several 
months studying Nara paintings Mills wirf miss her, 
but we wish her well in her new ventures. 

May 1971 



AFTERWORD From the oral history of Sara Bard Field, 

by Catherine Caldwell, 1979. 

Children usually piece together the events of their parents' lives 
gradually, in no logical sequence, from partially remembered anecdotes, 
casually mentioned, or deliberately related events., My mother's autobio 
graphy confirms what I sensed from early childhood, that she belonged to a 
world reaching far beyond our home. Just how large that world was and the 
genesis and expansion of her concern is set down in her oral history with 
clarity and astonishingly remembered detail. While we could not, as 
children, appreciate the importance of her work, my brother and I accepted 
her role in the outside world as a given fact although not without dismay. 
For since she was capable of creating intense, joyous excitement, her 
frequent absences were the more bleak by contrast. The infectious gaiety 
she brought with her was felt by everyone whose life she touched. My 
husband, James Caldwell, expressed the sparkle she inevitably evoked by 
saying, "When Sara comes, it's always a holiday!". She had the gift of 
giving herself wholly to the moment, not only in gaiety, but in sympathetic 
concern for individual suffering, always offering help, and for passionate 
defense of a cause or principle. 

Companionship with her was for my brother and me a shining event, after 
her long absences on the suffrage trail. We entered into the games she 
devised for us with much laughter and the sense that she was, for the moment, 
"ours." We were particularly enchanted by her "old witch, "an imaginary alter 
ego which she pretended to consult with mischievous and conspiratorial 
secrecy when we asked her a question. She was indeed bewitching in the 
dictionary definition, as in "a particularly charming and alluring woman." 

Sharing her was taken for granted, but however long the absences, it 
never occurred to me that she would not want to return home. And so it was 
an unexpected and paralyzing shock when she announced suddenly that she was 
no longer going to share life with my father. I was in my sixth year when 
she came to me suddenly and said, "Darling, I'm going to leave your father, 
do you want to stay with him or come with me?". I could not believe her 
words, for I hadn't the faintest hint that so momentous a change was about 
to take place. Besides my ignorance of the rift between my parents I had 
never encountered separation between parents. None of my little friends' 
parents were divorced. To choose between two parents, both of whom I loved, 
was a terrible decision. Forced to a choice, I chose to go with my mother. 
My brother, whom I dearly loved and who adored my mother, stayed behind. 

We were to spend a year in Goldfield, Nevada while my mother sued for 
her divorce. Coming from the land of rose festivals and verdant gardens we 
found this dry bare country a considerable shock. Even the guide books 
comment on its aridity. Desert Challenge describes it best: "Goldfield 
was a waterless and treeless country, in a zone where even the sagebrush gave up 


trying to grow, in favor of the low shad scale and the giant yucca, which 
cast no more shade than a barbwire fence." There was one little oasis in 
the town, - a small plot of grass owned by a highly paid mine executive. We 
were told that the monthly water bill for this extravagance came to one 
hundred dollars! I used to gaze on it with wonder, touching the green blades 
remembering my father's pride in our Portland garden and the smell of the 
newly cut lawn. This bit of green was a comforting sight in a dry land. 

It was not until some time after we were settled in a little house in 
that rough mining town that I sensed a new strong presence in our lives, 
tangible only through the flow of letters and telegrams and the frequent 
arrival, by freight, of edible delicacies. The sender, of course, was 
C.E.S.W. Visits to the telegraph and post office (there was no house delivery 
and I do not remember having a telephone) were a regular part of our lives. 
My mother used to say, when she took me with her, that the rowdy men about 
town respected a woman with a child. The telegraph clerk apparently broke 
his routine day by savoring the messages he recorded. But the telegrams my 
mother received baffled as well as amused him, for they sounded like 
meaningless gibberish. This was exactly the effect that they were supposed 
to have on the unknowing eye since the text was devised in a curious code, 
deliberately intended to disguise the meaning, and the identity of the 
sender. The sender was a mystery to me, too. I knew his name was Erskine 
(later to be called "Pops" by my brother and me) and that steady communication 
with him was the focus of my mother's life. But I did not then know that 
she had left my father for love of him. Nor did I know that later, after a 
long period of rejection by me, he would become a second father to me and a 
crucial force in shaping my thought and the direction of my life. 

Erskine' s letters were written in green ink in an easy flowing hand. 
The green ink was as much a part of his personal style as his long hair and 
beard. Sight of that ink and hand, when inadvertently discovered by my 
father in later years, would send him into a rage. For this small evidence 
of non-conformity reminded my father of C.E.S.W.'s deeper commitment to a 
personal freedom he abhorred. 

My mother spent many hours at her typewriter, writing late into the 
night. I would lie in bed listening to the pounding of the keys which 
reassured me that she was "still there." When the sound ceased I was 
fearful of being left alone. For frequently, her work concluded, she would 
join a late-night party. Characteristically, she was the vibrant center of 
a group wherever she might be. Goldfield was no exception. Literate 
company was scarce, but executives of the gold mine provided tolerable 
distraction and temporary escape from her loneliness for C.E.S.W. 

On Sundays, we dined at the Goldfield Hotel, the only evidence of urban 
elegance and solidity in town. I loved going there. There were thick 
flowered carpets, heavy leather-covered chairs, mahogany woodwork, and an 
elevator I delighted to ride up and down in just as a game. We would sit 
alone at a table in the big dining room. Mother would order a glass of red 


wine for herself and a glass of grape juice for me, my "pretend wine," to 
make me feel grown up. On one occasion a lady at a nearby table admonished 
my mother for giving what she supposed to be alcohol to a child. My mother 
indignantly put her to rights. 

Goldfield was undeniably a frontier town. Gypsies in horse-drawn wagons 
frequently came by, a bull occasionally broke loose, and my schoolmates 
included the offspring of prostitutes. But the serious threat to our peace 
of mind was blackmail. My mother would find a note under the door threaten 
ing her with damaging evidence in her divorce trial if she did not leave 
five hundred dollars (big money at that time) under a given tree. I remember 
going for a ride one night with some of my mother's friends to put an empty 
envelope under the designated tree. The sheriff was in hiding. Whether or 
not the criminal was caught 1 do not know, but I do know that the money was 
never paid. 

The long year's exile in Goldfield came to an end. The terms of the 
divorce settlement gave custody of the children to my father. My brother, 
who had stayed behind with our father, had of course been separated from our 
mother for the duration. Henceforth, by court degree, we were to see my 
mother weekends and half of vacations. After an interval in Alameda, my 
father found a house for us in Berkeley, one he exchanged for the abandoned 
Portland property. He chose Berkeley because he wanted us to grow up in a 
cultivated academic community. My mother rented an apartment on Russian 
Hill in San Francisco, in commuting distance from Berkeley. On Fridays, 
in addition to our brown-bag lunch, we carried a little satchel to school 
for our weekend stay in San Francisco. 

By my father's order, we were never to see "that man" (my father could 
never bring himself to utter the name of Wood). This stipulation put my 
mother in a serious dilemma. For how could she say to Erskine when he came 
down from Portland to see her (as he frequently did) "Erskine, please go 
away for the weekend since my children are here." So, in order to see my 
mother, we had to pretend to my father that we never saw "that man." I 
dreaded C.E.S.W.'s visits which cut into the precious hours with my mother 
and necessitated lying to my father. There were occasional leaks when some 
friend, innocent of betrayal, would say in my father's presence "I saw 
Albert and Kay having lunch at the Palace with the most interesting looking 
man. He had long hair and a beard." My father's rage on learning that his 
orders had been breached, that his children were being exposed to the views 
of an "anarchist" and "free lover," was terrifying. He renewed his threats 
to forbid our seeing our mother entirely. 

On October 12, 1918, my brother Albert was killed in an automobile 
accident, when he was seventeen, I twelve. I have lived and relived the 
sequence of events of that tragic day throughout my life. My mother, 
brother, Pops, and I had been, as my mother describes, on a picnic in Marin 
county. Pops had never learned to drive, but had persuaded my mother to 
take driving lessons and she was, consequently, driving the car. We had 


intended to go straight back to San Francisco after the picnic, since the 
auto ferries ran at fairly long intervals. However, my brother wanted to 
show my mother one of his favorite hiking haunts, and we drove farther on 
climbing a steep hill, called White's Hill. My brother and I took turns 
sitting beside my mother on the front seat. Shortly before the accident 
I moved in front. Since the hill seemed to continue indefinitely without 
a convenient turning place, my mother attempted to make a U-turn in the road. 
She put the gear in reverse and we moved slowly back. Suddenly we realized 
that she was approaching the outside edge of the road. Pops called out, 
"Sara, put on the brake!" which she did. But it was too late. The edge 
gave way and the car rolled slowly, turning over and over the forty-foot 
bank. My mother, brother and I were trapped under the overturned car at 
the bottom of the canyon. Only C.E.S.W. was thrown free. His nose had been 
broken, but, dripping with blood he climbed the steep bank to seek help. My 
mother, who must have been in excruciating pain from a partially severed leg, 
showed extraordinary fortitude. Though held down by my right arm, I was 
uninjured. My mother and I shouted "Help!" in unison, hoping to attract the 
attention of motorists on the highway above. It was a futile effort since 
on the upward slope engines noisily changed gears, obliterating other sounds. 
To the terror of being trapped was added the sound of my brother's heavy 
breathing. I did not know he was dying but knew he must be in great distress. 
In actuality he was killed by the weight of the car on his chest. According 
to my mother's account, she was "able to hold Kay in ray arms and sing to her, 
trying to quiet her hysterical terror." This was an impossibility since we 
were separated and unable to move. For what she did do I am unendingly 
grateful. Although I realized our peril and would have put little faith 
in a soothing answer, I asked her if we were going to die. So, when she 
replied, "Kay, I do not know " the stark honesty was strangely reassuring. 

My brother died under the car. We, the survivors, struggled with our 
disbelief. My mother's physical and psychological anguish were so great 
that she could not speak to me when I came to her hospital bed. Pops was 
under sedation. My brother was irretrievably gone. My father, who was out 
of town on a fund-raising trip for his church, was summoned but had not 
returned. I dreaded his coming for the accident not only killed my brother 
but also revealed undeniably our association with "that man." In my desolate 
isolation I was forced to a self-dependence both bewildering and awesome. It 
is impossible to exaggerate what the loss of my brother meant to me. For 
added to the weight of sorrow was the loss of a confident buoyant reassuring 
ever-present companion on whom I could depend. My mother seemed unaware of 
the immensity of this loss to me. She says in her oral history "Kay... was 
very young, and thank God, it doesn't seem to have left any mark on her that 
I can see. She never refers to it" (p. 378). The familial bond between 
brother and sister was strengthened by separation from our mother and by our 
common need to stand up to our father's attempt to curtail our visits to her 
and to devise ways -to slip in surreptitious visits. Although we each had 
separate friends, the weekend trips to San Francisco threw us together in 
our free time more constantly than most siblings of different ages and sexes. 


Furthermore, the endearing reason for these trips bound us together in a 
special way. In spite of brotherly teasing, Albert showed considerable 
tenderness toward me. His letters to my mother reiterate his attempt to 
comfort me in her absence. He tried to compensate, in an older brotherly 
way, for the insecurity caused by separation from my mother. I adored him 
and counted on him as an unfailing companion and protector. 

In the weeks following the accident, my mother and Pops lived in a 
rented house in Kentfield, where my mother recuperated from the intricate 
surgery needed to save her partially severed leg. For months, I was cut off 
from seeing her since there was no doubt about C.E.S.W.'s being at her 
side. Finally a visit was arranged, an event never to be forgotten. The 
visit was prearranged with the assurance that C.E.S.W. would not be in 
evidence. My mother's sister, Mary Parton, who had come to Kentfield to 
help her stricken sister, confused the date of our visit. As my father and 
I approached the porch we saw my mother reclining in a chaise longue. Next to 
her, his arms about her shoulders, was C.E.S.W. This scene was too much for 
my father. Jealousy and hatred for the man he felt indirectly responsible 
for his son's death overwhelmed him. As we retreated through the garden he 
shouted hysterically, his words ringing through the air, "You killed your 
son, you killed your son!" I still remember my mother's sobbing and my fury 
at my father for his cruel accusation and a sense of total desolation. 

So far, the references I have made to my father have shown only his 
uncontrollable anger. Such a description of him is unfairly one-sided. 
Circumstances, which he vainly fought to alter, deprived him of his fondest 
expectations and distorted his emotions. His expectations in marriage were 
normal for the time; his high regard for women and willingness to share 
domestic chores, rare. He admired my mother's intellectual capacities, 
which he frequently acknowledged to be superior to his own, and was wholly 
sympathetic with her effort toward legalization of women's suffrage. He 
believed in encouraging women in the sciences and arts. (At a later time 
he engaged Julia Morgan, then a budding architect, to draw the plans for 
his Berkeley church.) His social liberalism (he called himself a Christian 
Socialist) had cost him his church in Cleveland. But he was a fundamentalist 
Christian, and as such adultery was inconceivable to him. When the blow fell 
the hurt and outrage were intensified by the status of his rival, who was not 
only a brilliant lawyer, handsome and urbane, but also inextricably married. 
To jealousy was added humiliation and disgrace. In vain he appealed to the 
first Mrs. Wood to remove the disgrace by releasing her husband from the 
marriage contract. She gave her Catholic faith as the reason for her 
refusal, saying in addition that she did not want her grandchildren to think 
of her as a divorced woman. Her children, all adults, stood firmly beside 
her all but the youngest daughter, Lisa, whose compassionate and loving 
nature enabled her both to comfort her mother and to understand the love 
her father had for my mother. The eldest son, precisely my mother's age, 
maintained an uncompromisingly critical stance toward his father and 
hostility towards my mother until a few years before her death. Suddenly, 
as though taken by a swift enlightenment, he wrote my mother to affirm his 


realization of the depth and closeness of his father's and my mother's 
relationship, lamenting that this realization had not come before his 
father's death. For my mother, who longed for reconciliation with her 
Erskine's family, this was a poignant moment of fulfillment. 

My father made frequent appeals to my mother to reconsider her decision 
to leave home and to return to him. He believed her to be the victim of a 
temporary infatuation, almost to a fever that would run its course. To him, 
Wood was a skillful enticer of women, persuasive enough to cause another man's 
wife to cast aside her Christian principles and to enter a life of sin. For 
years he held out the hope that "his Sara" would "see the light." Years 
after she was patently lost to him he would send her flowers on her birthday 
with the Biblical quote, "Love never faileth." My father's life was 
shattered. He had lost his wife, his Portland job was no longer tenable, 
his status was diminished, and as an inadvertent dark consequence of the 
separation, he had lost his son. My brother and I were the focus of his love. 
He gave us, in spite of his modest financial resources, a comfortable home 
in a "good" neighborhood, consistent medical care, music lessons, and excur 
sions to the country, Yosemite and Big Sur, which we learned to love. I 
lived with my father until my seventeenth year, the year of the Berkeley 
fire. Our house was destroyed in the conflagration and, although friends of 
my father offered us temporary quarters, it seemed logical for me to join 
my mother in San Francisco. Instead of asking if I might go I simply 
announced (with pounding heart) my decision which, to my amazed relief, my 
father accepted without contest. After two decades of living alone he 
entered into a platonic marriage with a pious, churchly woman to whom he 
could confide his abiding dismay. On his deathbed my father said to her, 
"Tell Sara I forgive her." While still insisting on being wronged, his 
forgiveness was not only a capitulation, but also a loving surrender. 

My father tried to protect us from what he passionately believed to be 
the evil influence of the doctrine of free love, openly endorsed and 
practiced by my mother and C.E.S.W. He viewed their relationship as ungodly 
and unprincipled. His children above all should be kept from contamination. 
What he could not comprehend was the complexity, depth, and endurance of their 
union. It was not the trivial affair of his imagining, but an affinity 
stemming from and nourished by a love of poetry, ardent commitment to social 
change, and compassion for human suffering. Ironically enough, it was the 
tenderness, warmth, compatibility, and mutual devotion that set my mother 
and C.E.S.W. apart as having an ideal marriage. In her oral history, my 
mother says "...we were willing to make almost any sacrifice on earth to 
establish a life together." One of those sacrifices was to relinquish custody 
of her children to my father a condition necessary to obtain her divorce. 
My brother and I never questioned the "rightness" of the relationship between 
our mother and Pops. On the contrary, we believed in and defended it, in 
spite of experiencing occasional social ostracism. 


Their rapport was so profound, their delight in one another so 
fulfilling that they might easily have shut out the world. On the contrary, 
their home whether on Russian Hill, or later at The Cats in Los Gatos, 
became a gathering place for poets, musicians, civil libertarians, and 
leaders of the Jewish cultural community, some of whom Pops had known through 
his legal connection with the banking firm of Lazard Freres. Mother and 
Pops were fearless. Two startling instances come to mind. The first had to 
do with the suffrage campaign. My mother agreed to attend a play, in a San 
Francisco theater, which portrayed Woodrow Wilson. She agreed, further, to 
rise in the middle of the play to say, 'tor. President, when will you support 
the suffrage amendment?" The local suffrage group had guaranteed the presence 
of a large contingent of their membership which would loudly applaud my 
mother's question. Unfortunately only a few turned up and instead of thunder 
ing applause one heard only the delicate clapping of a few gloved hands. It 
was said that the actor went white under his white paint. My face (for she 
had taken me with her for moral support) was flaming with embarrassment. The 
deed done, but not the play, we rose to leave. The ladies whom we passed on 
the way out drew their skirts aside in distaste. I was proud of my mother's 
courage, but hated to see her shunned. 

On another occasion, my mother and Pops and Bishop Parsons, of Grace 
Cathedral, were scheduled to address a meeting to protest the draft (in World 
War I). The newspapers had announced that the first three speakers (they 
were the first three) would be arrested. I attended the meeting with 
apprehension and fear. The hall was filled with police. I fully expected 
to see my mother and Pops hauled off to jail. They spoke firmly and with 
deep conviction. No move was made to arrest them, for what I could not have 
known as a child of eight was the reluctance, at that time, to arrest people 
of standing in the community. Apparently, however, my father was apprehensive 
too, for he told me that he had gone to the meeting with sufficient funds to 
bail my mother out, had the newspaper predictions come true. 

It is little wonder that devastated by my brother's death, the pain 
intensified by her inadvertent role at the wheel my mother should eventually 
have a severe nervous breakdown. While her son's death was for her the 
ultimate personal tragedy, anyone familiar with her poems will recognize in 
her nature a despondent side. The breakdown, which she does not mention in 
her oral history, occurred several years after the auto accident, years 
shadowed by brooding and insomnia. Pops met this crisis in his usual steady, 
competent, caring way. The house at 1020 Broadway in San Francisco (which 
became their residence after Pops' final departure from Portland) was turned 
into a temporary hospital. Extraordinary precautions were necessary for her 
care. I was about fifteen years old at the time and had succeeded in over 
coming my father's objections to regular visits to my mother. As a 
consequence I had come to accept and love Pops as a second father. Our 
concern for someone we each loved so dearly drew us together in a new mature, 
supportive way. We depended upon one another for comfort and hope, for his 
Sara and my mother was for the duration of the breakdown beyond our reach. 


We had no way of knowing how long this isolation from her would last. When, 
in about a year's time, she regained her joyousness and will to live our own 
joy was inexpressible. Pops and I were bound together indissolubly by this 
long period of shared darkness. 

But the event that brought all three of us in close and prolonged 
relationship as a family was a year of travel together in Europe. In 1923, 
Pops and Mother decided to go to Italy for an indefinite stay with the 
possibility of permanent residence abroad. They invited me to join them. I 
announced my decision to accompany them to my father who, to my surprise, 
put up no opposition. He did not answer, just looked at me steadily. His 
anger seemed spent and I felt a vague pity for him, a pity that has deepened 
with the years. From this time on Pops took first place as a father in my 
life. We roamed the museums of Naples, Rome, and Florence together. He 
had always been interested in painting had, indeed, known some of the 
foremost American painters of the early part of the century Ryder, Hassam, 
Weir and had purchased their works. He was also an amateur painter. He 
was pleased with my response to painting and sculpture. For although my 
mother enjoyed the visual arts she was essentially a literary person. This 
bond between Pops and me was a deep satisfaction to my mother. My interest 
in art fostered by Pops' teaching, continued throughout my life. 

It is apparent from what I have told of my childhood that my contacts 
with my mother were discontinuous. As a little child, I found the infrequency 
of our companionship vaguely unsettling, which may account for my mother's 
description of me as "very gloomy a great deal of the time." Continuity, 
however, is no guarantee of sympathetic companionship. While it was difficult 
to grow up in an adult world where I was expected to be more or less "on my 
own," there were considerable rewards. Poetry and gardens were my mother's 
enduring passions and she passed on a love of both to me. Poetry, especially, 
drew us close together. In her poem "Kay" the gloom has become "A shy deep 
stream of sombre water" from which she finds healing. 

Discussions of poetry were an accompaniment to nearly every meal. For 
Sara and Erskine work was always in progress, and the conversation would 
center on the current manuscript. From my early teens, I entered into the 
turbulent literary discussions, never patronized nor put down. Literary 
friends treated me with equal seriousness. Genevieve Taggard wrote in the 
copy she gave me of her book, For Eager Lovers. "For Kay Field, who helped 
with the title." While working on her first volume of poems, The Pale Woman, 
my mother habitually submitted each poem for my opinion. The book is 
dedicated "To Albert, a young son who is not here to read, and to Katherine, 
a young daughter who has read and understood." 

I acquired early a favorable bias toward "literary" people who seemed 
to me to have exceptional liveliness and charm. This partiality toward 
writers may have caused me to be drawn on first acquaintance to Jim Caldwell. 
At the time of our meeting he was teaching in the English department of the 
University of Wisconsin. Meeting him was indirectly the result of my mother's 


earlier suffrage activities for she had campaigned for the suffrage amendment 
with Mrs. Robert La Follette, Sr. When I decided to go to the University of 
Wisconsin my mother gave me a letter to Mrs. La Follette, who promptly 
invited me to the La Follette farm outside Madison. It was there that I 
met Jim. He was an intimate friend of the La Follette family; his college 
roommate had been Phil La Follette, later governor of Wisconsin. 

Jim came out to California in the summer of 1925 to meet Erskine and 
Sara, the summer's trip conveniently financed by a teaching post at Dominican 
College. From their first meeting on the Los Gatos hill there was an under 
standing between them that deepened with the years. My mother and Pops could 
not have had a more congenial son-in-law. Jim and I were married at The Cats 
in 1929, under a great spreading live oak which stood at the center of a 
little amphitheater dedicated to music and poetry. Characteristically, Mother 
and Pops made a festival of the occasion. Details of the ceremony and the 
celebration following are told with great affection by them in a book called 
The Beautiful Wedding. 

After receiving his Ph.D. at Harvard, Jim was invited to join the English 
department at the University of California at Berkeley. Los Gatos was not 
too far away. The interplay between the academic life as we knew it at 
Berkeley and the artistic life burgeoning at "The Cats" would take too long 
to describe. The four of us shared one another's friends. At The Cats, we 
made friends with Robin and Una Jeffers, William Rose Benet, and Yehudi 
Menuhin. In Berkeley, we introduced Sara and Erskine to Alex and Helen 
Meiklejohn, Josephine Miles, and Walter Hart. The intimate interweaving of 
our lives in Berkeley and Los Gatos continued for fifteen years. 

Sara's life with Erskine ended in 1944 with Erskine 's death, when he 
was just short of ninety-two years old. The gap between their ages thirty 
years was now a formidable reality, for she faced thirty years of life 
alone. For several years she stayed on at The Cats, attended by a faithful 
Italian couple, the Marengos. Sara directed the intensity of her sorrow 
into preparing a book of Erskine 's collected poems, published by the Vanguard 
Press in 1949. She was encouraged in this undertaking by William Rose Benet, 
who wrote the introduction. Sara, in addition to choosing the poems, wrote 
a foreword in which she summarized Erskine 's social philosophy. 

When Mary and Vincent Marengo were forced by illness and age to retire, 
the burden of running The Cats became too heavy. No couple could replace 
the devoted, hard-working Marengos. To find any adequate domestic help in 
war time was virtually impossible, for the war industries, with their high 
wage scale, absorbed the best of the labor market. A move to Berkeley was 
the logical step, although for my mother, a melancholy break with the past. 
Jim and I helped her with the difficult task of moving the belongings she 
wanted to keep, disposing of the cumbersome accumulations of a lifetime, and 
finding a comfortable house in Berkeley. 


To find a setting as rural as the Los Gatos hillside was of course 
impossible. But after a long search we found a stream-side house built deep 
in the woods of Chabot Canyon, in Northeast Oakland. She took with her many 
of the beautiful furnishings from The Cats: Chinese furniture and rugs, 
pictures by Hassam and Weir, a library of poetry, her Steinway piano, and her 
noble affectionate police dog, Barda. Once she settled, she began planning 
a garden, harmonious to the woodland setting. She was an intuitive landscape 
architect. Some people garden for exercise. For Sara, gardening was 
creative thinking in greens and colored petals. She used to say that most 
gardens exist in the mind, meaning that the plants one chose for hopeful 
simultaneous blooming did not always oblige. But for her, they bloomed as 
punctually and luxuriantly as the pictured flowers in the garden catalogues. 

Planning the garden and modifying the house structure were healing 
distractions from the painful parting from Los Gatos, and to this new setting 
Mother brought her special kind of pleasurable concentration. She continued 
to support the many humanitarian causes with which she had been long identified, 
especially the American Civil Liberties Union, on whose board she served. 
She entertained her friends and enjoyed a special friendship with Walter Hart, 
whom she frequently met for long afternoons of literary interchange. 

Her pleasure in her new environment was considerable, but all too brief. 
A surveyor's mark posted on her property was an ominous sign that this small 
paradise would come to an end. The real estate agent who sold her the 
property had kept from her the fact that a freeway was planned to cut through 
her canyon. 

Jim and I found her a house close to our own architect-designed and 
surrounded by a garden. To the east was a wooded lot which she eventually 
purchased. But she was never satisfied with this new location and mourned 
the loss of the house by the stream. 

For some years she continued a mentally active life. It was at this 
time that she was interviewed for her oral history. But a series of strokes 
made her dependent on nursing care and shut her away from the active world. 
In spite of her integrity and strength, I do not think that she recovered 
psychologically from Erskine's death. In her mind, and in the minds of the 
many who had known them, Erskine and Sara were inseparable. Albert Bender, 
a devoted friend, had, in earlier days commissioned Ed Grabhorn to print a 
volume of selected poems by S.B.F. and C.E.S.W. He asked Jim Caldwell to 
write the foreword; in it he said, "It is altogether right that their notable 
companionship should be symbolized by this physical binding together of their 
poems, which, since they seem often to start from the rich impulse of a shared 
life, are already closely interbound." For Sara Bard Field Wood, although 
she tried bravely to carry on alone, her life, in its deepest meaning, ended 
with his. 

Katherine Field Caldwell 
December 1979 
Berkeley, California 


INDEX --Katharine Field Caldwell 

Abramowitsch, Bernard and Eva, 71- 


Adams, Ansel, 68-69 
Addams , Jane, 53-54 
Alma Trio, 74 
American Civil Liberties Union, 

board, 71, 127-128 
Anderson, Judith, 124, 131-132 
Anderson, Marian, 78 
Anna Head School, Berkeley, 127, 

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 

208. 215ff-222, 230-231, 238 

Bailer, Adolph, 71, 74 
Bender, Albert, 75, 169-170 
Benedict, Burton, 167 
Bennett, Mary Woods, 190, 197 
Berkeley: Art Commission, 25; 

parks, 25; public schools, 24, 

56-57, 86-87, 126-127, 130, 

156-157; University and 

Shattuck Avenues, 25; Vine 

Lane, 23, 27 
Berkeley fire, 1923, 23, 58-60, 

Berkeley High School, 56-57, 86- 

87, 130, 156-157 
Berkeley Piano Club, 73 
bicycling, 28 

Billings, Warren K. , 22-23 
Bingham, Edwin, 62 
Bingham, Woodbridge and Ursula, 

Bissinger, Marjorie [now Marjorie 

Seller], 214 
Bogas, Roy, 71 
Boodberg, Peter, 189 
Boston Museum of Fine Arts, 110, 

112-113, 209, 222 
Boynton, Ray, 74, 231 
Bronson, Bertrand H. "Bud" and 

Mildred, 121-122, 124, 126, 

142, 150-151 

Browne, Maurice and Nellie [Ellen] 

62, 65 
Brundage, Avery, 113, 216-218, 


Brundage, Elizabeth, 223 
Brundage Collection, 198-200, 

Bufano, Beniamino, 34, 74-75, 237 

Caen, Estelle, 148 

Cahill, James, 117, 215-217, 220, 


Calder, Alexander, 233 
Caldwell, Dan, 87, 141, 147ff-159, 

229, 236 
Caldwell, James R. , 31, 33, 44, 

58, 60, 79-80, 87, 96, 98-103, 

111, 114, 118ff-173, 169, 192, 

210, 215, 224, 230ff-240 
Caldwell, Sara, 10, 44, 87, 120, 

127, 130, 147ff-159, 229 
California Palace of the Legion of 

Honor, San Francisco, 115-116, 

164-165, 171-172 
Campbell, Joseph, 235 
Car dwell, Kenneth, 232 
Carmel, California, Peter Pan Inn, 

137; Point Lobos, 28, 31 
Cats, The, Los Gatos , 46, 72, 77- 

78, 84-85, 103, 152 
Chicago Art Institute, 51-52, 87, 

210, 223-224 

Chinatown, San Francisco, 26, 230 
Cline, James M. and Jane, 121-122, 

142, 150-151 

Clinton, Hillary Rodham, 142 
communism, 65 
Congregational Church, Berkeley, 


Coomaraswamy , Ananda Kent, 113 
Coppa's Restaurant, San Francisco, 

Cowan, Geoffrey, 55 


d'Argence, Rene-Yvon, 183, 215-218 
Darrow, Clarence, 11-15, 55, 150 
Dennes, William R. "Will" and 

Margaret, 125 
de Young Museum, San Francisco, 

164-165, 167, 171 
Dillon, Percy, 20 
Draft Board, 128-129 
Dumas, Raphael, 107 
Durant, Kenneth, 61 
Durham, Willard "Bull", 120-121, 


Ealy, Caro Weir, 239 
East-West Arts Foundation, San 

Francisco, 183 
Ehrgott, Albert, 1-6, 13, 17-22, 

24-25, 27-32, 36, 38-42, 56-60, 

68, 83, 95, 101-102 
Ehrgott, Albert Field, 2-9, 11, 

14, 20-22, 25-26, 33-34, 36-43, 

54, 64, 239 

Ehrgott, Mabel, 27, 83 
Eliot, T.S., 123, 238 
Elkus, Albert, 39, 71, 73, 134, 


Emmett, Dorothy, 105-106, 108 
Erskine, Dorothy and Morse, 72, 

201, 210, 213-214 
Esherick, Joseph, 153-154 

Fairbank, John, 98, 100, 106 
Field, Eugene, 7 
Field, Marion, 15 
Field, Sara Bard, Iff 
Fleishhacker, Mortimer, 116 
Fontein, Jan, 221-222 
Frankenstein, Alfred, 202 
Freer Gallery, Washington, D.C. , 

222, 237 
Friends of Far Eastern Art, 

Fromm Institute of Lifelong 

Learning, University of San 

Francisco, 204 
Fry, Amelia Roberts, 22 

Gale, Zona, 93 

Gilson, Etienne, 104-105 

Golden Gate International 

Exposition, Treasure Island, 

1939-1940, 33, 165-168, 174, 


Grabhorn, Edwin, 63-65, 198 
Green, Cornelia, 104, 110 
Griff ing, Robert, 200, 209-210, 

Gump's [store], San Francisco, 

168, 200, 209 

Haas, Elise, 174, 176-177, 183, 


Hart, Walter Morris, 122-123, 126 
Harvard University, Fogg Museum, 

110, 112, 114-116 
Hassam, Chllde, 76, 87, 229 
Hayes, Peggy Calder, 233 
Horn, Walter, 178-179, 198 
Howe, Thomas Carr, 165 
Huff, Elizabeth, 169 
Hughes, Langston, 78 
Hull House, Chicago, 52-54 

International Ladies Garment 
Workers Union, 211 

Jeffers, Una and Robinson, 133- 

137, 236, 238 
Jewish families, San Francisco 55- 


Johannsen, Homer, 52, 94 
Johannsen, Margaret, 52, 92 
Jung, Carl Gustav, 107 

Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, 
University of Wisconsin, 98 

Keightley, David, 224-225 

Kennedy, Alma Schmidt, 23-24 

Kent, Alice, 210, 213 

Kent, Elizabeth [Mrs. William 
Kent, Sr.], 51 

Key Route, and Southern Pacific 
Railroad, Berkeley, 25-26 

Kluckholm, Clyde, 100, 106 

Kraus, Lili, 71 

Kroeber, Theodora, 234-235 

La Follette, Philip and Isabel, 

93-94, 96 

Lauer, Eleanor, 196 
Lawton, Helena Steilberg, 121 
Lee, Ching Wah, 183, 185 


Lehman, Benjamin H., 103, 119-124, 

Lehman, Henriette Goodrich Durham, 

107, 132-134, 201 
Lewis, R. E., 115, 233 
Liebes, Dorothy, 182-183 
Liebes, Leon, 75 

loyalty oath controversy, 137-141 
Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 136 
Luhan, Tony, 68 
Lutzker, Mary-Ann, 208 

Maenchen, Anna, 162, 179-180 
Maenchen, Otto, 175, 178-180, 

185-186, 189-190, 194, 198, 227 
Malone, Dudley Field, 93 
Marengo, Vincent and Mary, 77 -IB, 

103, 153, 160 
Martin, Anne, 22 
Masters, Edgar Lee, 64 
Maybeck, Bernard, 23, 232, 234 
McGiffert, Elizabeth and Arthur, 


McGillicuddy, Padrian, 119 
McLaughlin, Sylvia, 213 
Meiklejohn, Alexander, 96-98, 128, 


Meiklejohn, Helen, 48-49 
Menuhin, Hepzibah, 73 
Menuhin, Yaltah, 73 
Menuhin, Yehudi , 71-72, 74, 148 
Meyer, Agnes Ernst [Mrs. Eugene 

Meyer] , 93 

Miles, Josephine, 143-145 
Milhaud, Darius, 73, 186 
Mills College, 169-171, 175, 183, 

186, 188, 190ff-208, 231; music 

department, 73 
Ming, Chinese servant, 66 
Minor, Lydia and Bob, 92 
Morley, Grace McCann, 116, 165, 

Muscatine, Charles, 140 

Nara, Japan, and Nara Ehon. 187, 

Neumeyer, Alfred, 186, 190, 198, 


Packard, Harry, 226-227 

Panama Pacific International 

Exposition, 1915, 19; 

Suffragists booth 

[Congressional Union] , 22 
Parkinson, Thomas F. "Tom," 139 
Parsons, Marion, 131 
Parton, Lemuel, 17, 19, 150 
Parton, Mary Field, 12-13, 17, 19- 

20, 42, 53, 55, 65, 84-85, 150 
Paul, Alice, 22, 53 
Pepper, Stephen C., 185-187 
Point Lobos, California, 28, 31 
Post, Chandler, 111 
Potter, Beatrix, 30-31 
Pound, Ezra, 90-91 
Powys , John Cowper , 64 
Powys, Llewelyn, 64, 67 
Prieto, Antonio, 191 
Pulitzer, Anita, 92 

Radcliffe College, 103ff-116 

Reicher, Hedwiga, 62 

Reinhardt, Aurelia Henry, 169-170, 

186, 197 

Rejto, Gabor, 74, 148, 155 
Rivera, Diego, 182 
Rollins, Lloyd, 165 
Ross, John and Nancy, 125-126, 


Rothwell, Easton and Ginny, 193 
Rowell, Galen, 156 
Rowell, Margaret, 142, 148, 


Ruch, Barbara, 205 
Rukeyser, Muriel, 133 
Rukeyser, William L. , 133 
Ryder, Albert Pinkham, 75, 87-88 

Sachs, Paul, 115-116 

St. Mary's College, Moraga, 

California, 202-203 
Salmony, Alfred, 169-170, 183-184, 

186, 188, 197 

Salz, Helen and Ansley, 70-71, 128 
San Francisco art museums. See 
California Palace of the Legion 
of Honor; Asian Art Museum; , 
San Francisco Museum of Art. 
San Francisco Arts Commission, 116 


San Francisco Museum of Art, and 

Women's Board, 165, 171-172, 

Sanford, Christine and Nevitt, 


Santayana, George, 107 
Schaeffer, Rudolph, 180-181, 

Schafer, Edward; 189 
Schorer, Mark and Ruth, 138 
Schumann-He ink, Ernestine, 73 
Shangraw, Clarence, 222 
Shiota, Mr., [art dealer, San 

Francisco], 129, 168 
Sickman, Laurence, 227-228 
Smith, Lisa Wood, 36, 103 
Society for Asian Art, 183, 

210ff-225, 235 
Stackpole, Ralph, 69-70, 74, 

175-176, 230, 238 
Steffens, Lincoln, 65-66, 136 
Steffens, Pete, 136 
Steilberg, Walter, 118-119, 121 
Stern, Marjorie, 210-211, 213-214 
Stevens, Doris, 93 
Stewart, George R. , 140 
Storey, Morfield, 103 
Strong, Edward W. "Ed", 141, 155, 


Sullivan, Michael, 216, 220 
Sullivan, Noel, 78-79, 103, 119, 

136-137, 201 

laggard, Genevieve, 61-62, 81, 239 
Temple of the Wings, Berkeley, 

Boynton family, 24 
Thomas, Dylan, 137-139 
Tolman, Edward and Kathleen, 125, 

129, 139-140, 143 
Toth, Andor, 74 

Town and Gown Club, Berkeley, 33 
Twachtman, John Henry, 75, 87 

Ulvsses. 90 

University of California, 

Berkeley, Department of Art, 
185-186; Department of English, 
118ff-152; Extension Division, 
127; stadium, 31. See loyalty 
oath controversy. 

University of Wisconsin, 96-100 

Van Volkenburg, Ellen [Mrs. 
Maurice Browne], 92, 94 
Vernon, Mabel, 22 

Warner, Langdon, 110-113, 166-169, 

171, 181ff-187, 227 
Warner, Olin, 238 
Weir, Julian Aulin, 239 
Welch, Marie, 134 
Whipple, T. K. and Mary Ann, 125 
White, John, 232, 234 
White, Lynn, 190-193, 200 
Whitehead, Alfred North, 104-106, 


Winter, Ella, 136 
Wold, Emma, 22 
Wolfe, Bob, 61-62 
Woman Geographers, 234-235 
Women's Party, 11, 43, 48, 96; 

meeting, Washington, D.C. , 

1921, 10, 51-55 
Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 3, 9, 

15, 17, 27, 32, 34-51, 54, 

58ff95, 97, 102-103, 110, 118, 

128-129, 136-137, 152-153,, 

160-162, 229ff-240 
Wormser, Robert, 55-56 
Wright, Cedric, 69 

Yanagi, Soetsu, 113 

Yosemite National Park, 9, 28, 31 

Young, Ella, 119-129 

Zen Center, Berkeley, 238 

Suzanne Bassett Riess 

Grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Graduated from 
Goucher College, B.A. in English, 1957. 
Post-graduate work, University of London and the 
University of California, Berkeley, in English and 
history of art. 

Feature writing and assistant woman's page editor, 
Globe -Times . Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 
Volunteer work on starting a new Berkeley newspaper. 
Natural science decent at the Oakland Museum. 
Free-lance Photographer. 

Editor in the Regional Oral History Office since 1960, 
interviewing in the fields of art, environmental 
design, social and cultural history, horticulture, 
journalism, photography, Berkeley and University 

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